My Cousin Rachel : Shades of noir

Shades of noir

My Cousin Rachel refuses to makes the charming guest’s intentions clear, leaving viewers out in the cold as to who exactly is the worse figure of the two: Rachel or Philip. If Rachel actually seeks lavish riches at the price of destroying a family, then one can save some empathy for Philip despite how flippant and abrasive he has become. If she is as innocent as she claims to be, then Philip has simply gone mad like Ambrose, unable to discern truth from fiction, allowing his heart to lead his mind astray in a spiral of self-destruction. Some might consider this aspect to be the film’s flaw given that it can appear as though the movie itself doesn’t really know how to treat its characters, their behaviours regularly suggesting shifting intentions, but always only suggesting. On the flip side, that same ingredient is the film’s most potent driving force, organically finding new dramatic beats to hit precisely because no one can tell what lurks behind Rachel’s winning smile. That interpretation means that Philip is doing most of the damage himself.