Review of 'Rebecca'

rebecca.jpg A young woman (Joan Fontaine) is the companion of Edythe Van Hopper (Florence Bates), an overbearing wealthy American aristrocrat. While on holiday in Monte Carlo the young woman falls in love with the wealthy Maximilian (Maxim) de Winter (Laurence Olivier) who seems quite serious and perpetually distracted. After they are married, the couple return to Maxim's house Manderley in Cornwall (England). The naive Mrs. de Winter is thrust into a life as head of the estate and into conflict with the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) who continually reminisces of the previous Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca. It is clear the death of Rebecca deeply effected Maxim and his new wife is determined to figure out why…

Another wonderfully composed yet understated piece from Hitchcock. A simple story yet with a satisfyingly surprising ending. The cinematography is wonderful with unusual angles and close-ups that heighten the drama.

Olivier plays a rather mysterious and guarded Maxim who only reveals himself in the final act while Fontaine is the stereotypical fish out of water, damsel in distress that has a curious nature that leads her again and again into trouble. It is the characters here that probably let the film down rather than the acting with not a lot for the actors to work with. The characters have little in the way of nuanced emotion or any amount of backstory, indeed, we never even learn the first name of Maxim's new wife, only the name of his previous wife who despite not appearing in the film is really the focus, everyone else is just background. Everything is about Rebecca despite her being long since passed away but this, also, is the entire point of the story: What actually happened to her?

A classic Hitchcock that does not quite hit the heights of his other masterpieces but still manages to keep the viewer guessing until the final reel.

Rating:

Review Date: 2020-04-17


Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Studio: Selznick International Pictures

Year: 1940

Length: 130 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032976/


Other reviewed films by Alfred Hitchcock: