Who doesn’t love discussing books that have been made into a good/bad/indifferent movie? My personal favorites include Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy (particularly great viewing at Christmas – all that snow) and Joe Wright’s film of Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement.’ Oh, and pretty much ANY version of Jane Eyre – you can’t go past Mr. Rochester and a madwoman in an attic.
I also love old, black and white classics. I LOVED the Alfred Hitchcock version of ‘Rebecca’, with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in the key roles and a terrific (though less well known) Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers. So it was with some interest (and not a little trepidation) that I recently watched the Netflix version, with Lily James and Arnie Hammer in the Fontaine/Olivier roles and the fabulous Kristin Scott Thomas as the unforgettable Mrs Danvers.
The verdict? Sorry, but the 2020 version was a huge disappointment. A few of my peeves: virtually no chemistry between the leads – they seemed too close in age, the early scenes gave the film more of a rom-com feel than the brilliant psychological thriller it is, and whenever Max tried to assert his authority, he came over as a bad-tempered brat rather than a scarred and mysterious older man (there we are, back to Mr Rochester again). I thought Arnie Hammer was horribly miscast and certainly didn’t carry off the classic line where he declares: “You think I loved Rebecca? I hated her!” That line, delivered by Olivier, was enough to send shivers down your spine. Delivered by Arnie it had all the drama of a limp lettuce. And while Kristin Scott Thomas did a marvellous job, it wasn’t enough to save the film as a whole (and she actually wasn’t as creepy as Judith Anderson).
If you’ve seen both films, I’d love to know what you think. Or, if there are any other films you think were a brilliant adaptation/huge disappointment – send your comments in! It would be lovely to hear from you.