Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Prime Video), “Over the Moon” (Netflix), “American Utopia” (Crave), “The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw” (VOD), “Rebecca” (Netflix) and “The Haunting of The Mary Celeste (VOD).
What the new remake of Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” starring Lily James, Armie Hammer and Kristin Scott Thomas and now streaming on Netflix, lacks in gothic thrills it makes up for in eye candy.
Taking over as handsome widower Maxim de Winter, the role Laurence Olivier made famous in Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar winning 1940 film, is Armie Hammer. Max is a charmer, a trust fund aristocrat with a beautiful estate, called Manderley, and a dead wife, named Rebecca.
On vacation in Monte Carlo a young woman (Lily James) catches his eye when she is refused service on the balcony of a fancy hotel restaurant. She is not a guest, she’s told, but an employee of a guest and therefore must eat elsewhere, anywhere but among the wealthy tourists enjoying their canapes and champagne. He invites her to join him and a whirlwind romance ensues. When her boss decides it’s time to travel to New York for debutant season, Max asks her to stay with a marriage proposal.
They move to Manderley, his family home on the windswept English coast. The sprawling home has been in his family for generations and is so grandly appointed it makes Downton Abbey look like an outhouse. At Manderlay the romance, which blossomed quickly, fades as the specter of Rebecca, the late lady of the estate, hangs heavy over the house and on Max’s mind.
Keeping Rebecca alive in heart and in mind is Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), Manderley’s baleful housekeeper. She is not impressed by Max’s naïve new bride who she thinks is trying to take Rebecca’s place.
Cue the dirty tricks, withering glances and gothic tomfoolery.
“Rebecca,” directed by Ben Wheatley, is undeniably beautiful looking. From its good-looking stars to the sumptuous production design is by Sarah Greenwood, it will make your eyeballs dance. The set decoration at Manderley alone is “Architectural Digest: Baroque Edition” worthy, but this is a movie that wants to appeal to more than just your eye and that’s where it disappoints.
The bones of the story seem perfect for a 2020 revisit. du Maurier’s exploration of the power imbalance between a wealthy man and a woman who must fight to find her own sovereignty is timely but undone by a story that never takes hold.
Hammer’s take on Max misses the essential coldness of the character. He’s short tempered, snippy and brusque but the icy core necessary to freeze out the new Mrs. de Winter is missing. Without that character element his reactions to events don’t bring the friction needed to engage the audience. At the pivotal ballroom scene, where the new bride is (MILD SPOILER ALERT) tricked into making a serious error in judgement, Max seems irked, pouty but the wound that is unintentionally opened doesn’t seem particularly deep. If Max doesn’t care that much, why should we?
From that moment on Wheatley drifts through the story with none of his patented risk taking—think his daring adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s “High-Rise” or his edge-of-your-seat “Kill List”—relying Clint Mansell’s score to provide the emotional highs and lows.
Like the story’s female protagonist the new version of “Rebecca” is haunted, this time by the ghosts of the story’s previous incarnations.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including “Misbehaviour” starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Kiera Knightley, Ethan Hawke as the legendary inventor in “Tesla” and the activist doc “We Are Many.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Cristina Tenaglia have a look at the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the oddball comedy “Kajillionaire” starring Richard Jenkins and Evan Rachel Wood, the poignant Brticom “Misbehaviour” with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley and the second Richard Jenkins movie of the week, “The Last Shift.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the oddball comedy “Kajillionaire” starring Richard Jenkins and Evan Rachel Wood, the poignant Brticom “Misbehaviour” with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley and the second Richard Jenkins movie of the week, “The Last Shift.”
Fifty years after the 1970 Miss World pageant erupted into chaos a new film documents the events that sent host Bob Hope scurrying from the stage, bombarded by flour bombs and heckles. “Misbehaviour,” a new British film starring Keira Knightley and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and now on VOD, sees members of the nascent British women’s liberation movement rebel against the show’s objectification of its contestants and Hope’s terrible jokes. “I consider the feelings of women,” he says, “I consider feeling women all the time.”
Knightley is Sally Alexander, a single mother and academic who believes the women’s liberation movement must address systemic sexism if there is to be meaningful change. Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley) takes a more hands-on approach, defacing statues and sexist billboards. Despite differing approaches, they focus their efforts on the Miss World pageant, an annual event with a world-wide television audience of over 100 million people.
In a parallel story Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Jennifer Hosten, Grenada’s first competitor in Miss World. Intelligent, elegant and composed, she’s willing to endure the contest’s objectification for the chance to make history as the first woman of colour to win the pageant crown. “You are a very lucky person if you think this is being treated badly,” she tells Miss Sweden, Maj Johansson (Clara Rosager).
“Misbehaviour” is an ambitious movie disguised as a feel good Britcom. Issues are raised and the era is vividly portrayed trough fashion and the attitude of the pageant’s organizers, but the story’s main point, that feminism comes in many styles and can mean different things to different people, is broached in a superficially earnest way, but never explored. Alexander and Robinson see the absurdity of the beauty contest is liken to a “cattle market.” The farcicality of it all, the bathing suit competition, the numbers on the wrists, is not lost on Hosten but for her it is an opportunity to make a statement to other woman and girls who look like her that this, and anything else in life, is possible. That doors can be opened.
Knightley and Buckley are reliably good but it is Mbatha-Raw who brings the heart and soul to “Misbehaviour.” More than just a retelling of the flour-bombing of Bob Hope or a history lesson on the roots of the women’s liberation movement (at the end we actually meet the real-life counterparts of the film’s characters), it’s character study of Hosten. She may not be the focus of the story, that’s Alexander and Robinson, but Mbatha-Raw’s warmth tempered by inner unease makes her the movie’s most layered and interesting character.