LIAM EASLEY, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTOR
Eighty years after the original film by Alfred Hitchcock, director Ben Wheatley released his version of the classic “Rebecca” on Netflix.
Armie Hammer (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “On the Basis of Sex”) and Lily James (“Cinderella,” “Baby Driver”) star in the lead roles in a world where rain doesn’t make people wet. (Seriously, this is something that film producers actually neglect.)
Maxim de Winters was a lonely man since his wife, Rebecca, passed. After meeting a woman while on vacation, he decides to marry her. His new wife, being from a lower-class status, was not familiar with the high society that de Winters was surrounded by, and as a result, she had a hard time adjusting to the role that was previously filled by Rebecca, the “perfect” woman who everybody adored. She had large shoes to fill … or so she thought.
In regard to modern suspense and thriller films, Wheatley’s “Rebecca” was horrible. It was overly dramatic and exaggerated in places where exaggeration was unnecessary. It attempted to build suspense at moments that didn’t require suspense. Overall, if you’ve seen Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” you already know what’s coming, therefore rendering buildup pointless. However, if you haven’t seen the original, this just comes off as tacky.
The whole thing boiled down to one question: Should this film have been revisited? The original was a mighty story of interesting twists and turns. It had a complex narrative that was sweetly and effectively delivered. It was no masterpiece, but it certainly was one of the best titles in the mystery genre for its time.
Wheatley’s version was visually compelling at best, but the narrative – the part of the movie that mattered – was poor. Wheatley took the original story and warped it, stripping it of suspense and adding lame dialogue and flaccid twists. Overall, it was a disappointing attempt to revitalize a movie that was much better off staying as it was.
In addition, the moments that were left intact from the original felt forced whether it was dialogue or a scene. It’s not that a remake must adhere to the original scene by scene, but when it came to “Rebecca,” if Wheatley recreated the original with a modern touch in regard to cinematography only, this would have been infinitely better.
Wheatley’s “Rebecca” was a modern thriller that abandoned logic for the sake of pseudo-drama. This may be the “modernization” of the film, but it only made the original look better. The one benefit to viewing this version is that it will bring a greater appreciation for the more mysterious, suspenseful and intelligent original from 1940.