What is the story about?
The story revolves around a young girl who stays and travels along with a rich lady as her companion and takes up the job because it allows her to see parts of the world and earn from it as well. On a trip such as this is when she falls head-over-heels in love with a mysterious yet charming gentleman, who is then revealed as Maxim de Winter, a young widower, the heir to a sprawling estate and also an eligible bachelor (once again). The duo are soon married after what might be a whirlwind romance and she becomes Mrs de Winter, the second.
The film begins with a narration by the character we're yet to meet and the flow has been followed much like the book written by Daphne du Maurier. It is the additional plot twists that are meant to add to the thrill of the movie but fail to do so on the whole.
The Gothic elements of the English countryside and a vintage mansion in its midst lends the eerie element it is meant to by way of the story being told and seen from the narrator's point of view (the second Mrs de Winter whose name we do not know as she is the narrator and the one adapting to the life around her).
Lily James has a promising start as a lady's companion before she takes on the role and responsibilities as the second Mrs de Winter. Her pairing with Armie Hammer is on-point with the chemistry perfectly in place between the two, however from an individual standpoint, one might find her ineffective in a role such as this despite a sincere effort.
Armie Hammer, in his role as Maxim de Winter, adds a fresh charm to this vintage hero/anti-hero and the owner of a sprawling and famous estate.
Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs Danvers is the one to look out for as this portrayal of the cold and unforgiving Mrs Danvers is a worthy passing of the baton from the character we've known over the years in the book (via the storytelling and reader's imagination) and the various on-screen adaptations.
Music & Other Departments
Ben Wheatley's direction and the camera work are on point in capturing the beautiful locales wherever the film has been shot in and around Europe, and in portraying the overbearing Manderley and the estate. The creation of all the elements of a darkish, psychological thriller are all present but the screenplay's under-effectiveness takes away from the film.
The theme song representing the life of the second Mrs de Winter is highly reminiscent of a country classic, probably a creation of The Cranberries.
Armie Hammer as the suave Monsieur de Winter and Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs Danvers who delivers on all the chills down your spine just by her piercing glance, a worthy passing of the baton from the on-screen Mrs Danvers over the years.
The original content lends an imaginative and sinister touch to it on its own that there was no need to go beyond and add the thrills.
Did I enjoy it?
Despite its added twists, classy fashion on the actors, scenic locales of Europe's various seasides, the film doesn't do much to keep one engaged.
Do I recommend it?
If you've enjoyed the literary material and the lingering feeling it leaves you with, then this new screen adaptation is a one-time watch for sure. Try not to compare with either the book or Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 film.