Movie Review: Rebecca (2020)
My Rating: 5/10
Okay, so I went into this movie expecting a suspenseful romance. That’s where I found it on Netflix, after all—in the romance category. And on IMDB it’s billed as a drama, mystery, romance. I am going to say right off the bat: in my opinion, this is not a romantic movie. It’s a drama with bits of suspense and a touch of mystery, but a drama foremost.
Rebecca opens with the young Main Character, who doesn’t seem to have a name (The title is the name of another character). Even on the cast list, she’s referred to as Mrs. de Winter. At the beginning, however, she has yet to marry Mr. de Winter.
She is introduced to us as a young hired companion to a rich, ill-mannered older woman, who treats her like shit at every opportunity. You’re made to feel sorry for her quite early, as everything she does is met with ridicule. Even her first encounter with the stoic, enigmatic Maxim de Winter is an exercise in humiliation for the poor girl. Her established personality at this point seems based on her insecurities and how badly she’s treated.
This, for reasons I don’t completely understand, is what seems to attract Maxim de Winter to her. He is a rich man travelling after his wife’s untimely death. It’s only been a few months. However, he takes a liking to the young, nameless MC, and lures her away from her mistress onto a montage of many dates around the European countryside.
Eventually this leads to an abrupt marriage. They barely know each other, and that becomes increasingly clear as the new Mrs. de Winter moves into Maxim’s manor and must contend with the rising pitch in expectations and constant comparisons to his late wife, whom, by all accounts, seems to be the embodiment of perfection. The way all the characters go on about Rebecca de Winter, she seems downright supernatural, and the dark, haunting ambiance of the movie seems to support that in some sub-textual ways.
What follows is a tale of jealousy and murder. Mrs. de Winter is an insecure soul, more tortured by the memory of Rebecca by the day, and the more obsessed she grows with the comparisons, the colder everyone becomes towards her.
I liked it at the start. The mood of this movie is dark and almost carries some faint horror vibes. Though the characters seem somewhat ineffectual and not very interesting, the writing is good, and the movie pulled me in, regardless. That much doesn’t change throughout the movie. It remains incredibly atmospheric. The suspense is in the air. I never at any point found the characters much more interesting, except for one Jack Favell who had a fascinating introduction that gave me hope he’d bring a spark of life to the cast of characters. Honestly, I wish more movies could do atmosphere as well as this one did.
Jack let me down, though. He, and every other suspicious character introduced in this tale, turned out exactly the way you’d expect them to. Even the love interest, Maxim de Winter, had woefully predictable issues: his initial wooing turned cold and cruel once he had his new wife in his house. He yelled at her a lot. Refused to talk about anything, treated her like crap, and never really does anything to make up for that. What few romantic moments we get seem to be merely reprieves from the rest of the time when he’s behaving like a bag of dicks.
The story itself is entertaining enough, though also predictable. Predictability isn’t always a bad thing, but in movies like this, where the characters haven’t much personality on their own, it becomes a snowball effect of mildly disappointing elements. That being said, it wasn’t boring. The movie plays up the emotion and suspense well enough to keep the viewer just invested enough to make it to the end.
Is it worth the watch? Sure. If you love dark atmospheric dramas, it’s absolutely entertaining enough if you’ve got Netflix anyway. Check it out. If you prefer character-driven stories, like I do, and get annoyed at passive, insecure main characters and emotionally abusive men passed off as romantic without having to do the work to redeem themselves, perhaps pass on this one.
Other movie reviews by Sam Clover:
Sam Clover is a published author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.