Stars: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen, Pierfrancesco Favino.
Director: Roger Michell
Screenplay: Roger Michell
Claflin is turning into an actor that I am getting excited about. But he was not the pull here, the eternal pull comes from Rachel Weisz playing the cousin Rachel in a layered performance that leaves you questioning but never once believing that this woman has got her life sorted.
Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin) receives a letter from his cousin Ambrose Ashley (Sam Claflin) who raised him is very ill and believes that his new wife has something to do with. By the time Philip makes it to Italy to see his cousin he is dead and his wife, Rachel, nowhere to be found but he believes that if he did arrive in time he could have saved him from his fate. Though his fortune stayed his own as his cousin never changed his will he becomes highly suspicious when Rachel decides to visit his English estate — however that quickly changes.
Claflin plays his role perfectly, the young puppy man that falls for the put together Rachel as she comes to stay to grieve her dead husband. Philip throws everything at her, his love, his fortune, his sanity. Weisz plays everything so effortlessly that you become rather suspicious of how she interacts with everyone around her; is she really who she seems or is she simply twisting young Ashley around her finger.
Really this story is about a woman trying to live a life within the framework of the limits of her era. There is no way for her to gain her own fortune outside of a man, and no matter if she finds a kind one her freedom does not exist as he controls the money, where she lives and goes. Which means to read Rachel's actions could be her finding a way to poison the younger Ashley like it is hinted she did with the older one or simply navigating her way to find her own independence by playing him just a little. Women must play Chess with their actions while men see you as docile that only want a good man to marry.
The film is gorgeous, though the setting barely allows for it to be hideous. The time period feels realistic, the ill comfort of English attire in summertime Italy, the smell of dog and smoke inside the house. Good film with a great cast (a massive honourable mentions to Holliday Grainger & Iain Glen, superb supporting roles).