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.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at whodunnit “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig, the papal buddy picture “The Two Popes” and the timely drama “Queen & Slim.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig and a cast of n’ere do wells, the Disney+ revamp of “Lady and the Tramp,” the odd couple picture “The Two Popes,” the corporate legal drama “Dark Waters,” and the thought provoking “Queen & Slim” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the who dunnit “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig, the Disney+ revamp of “Lady and the Tramp,” the buddy picture “The Two Popes” and the thought provoking “Queen & Slim.”
We first meet the title characters, Angela “Queen” Johnson (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Ernest “Slim” Hinds (Daniel Kaluuya) as they are strangers, passing time on a first, awkward date at a Cincinnati diner. “So what’s gonna happen tonight?” asks Slim. “I thought we could hang out and get to know one another.” Then fate intervenes, Tinder may have brought them together but circumstance binds them together forever when Slim gets pulled over for “failure to execute a turn signal and swerving a little bit.”
The situation quickly spirals out of control.
Slim presses the aggressive cop to hurry it up while Queen, an attorney, questions the officer’s motives in searching the car. As the police officer’s dashcam rolls, there are harsh words, a skirmish, a misfire and soon the cop lies dead.
“You are a Black man who shot a cop and took his gun,” she says.
“But I’m not a criminal,” he replies.
“You are now. If you turn yourself in you will never see your family again. We have to move forward.”
Panicked, they flee, heading for New Orleans home of Queen’s shady Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine). By the time they make it out of state a video of the accidental shooting has gone viral and their photos are splashed all over the papers.
The press paints them as “lovers”—even though they have just met—on cross country crime spree but public opinion is mixed. An African-American mechanic (Gralen Bryant Banks) they meet on the journey says, “You gave them a reason to kill us,” while his young son (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) sees them as folk heroes who stood up to authority. “If you don’t make it,” he says, “that’s OK. You’ll be immortal.”
They plan on making a run to freedom in Cuba. First, they have to avoid the police as they weave and wind their way to Florida’s coast.
Written by Lena Waithe and showcasing the style of director Melina Matsoukas in her feature debut, “Queen & Slim” takes a story with echoes of “Thelma and Louise” or “Bonnie and Clyde” and updates it, presenting the couple on the run tale from an African-American perspective. Angela is a lawyer whose first-hand view of the abuses of the justice system has made her a realist. It is her experience that self-defense will never fly solely based on the colour of their skin and it is her who sets the action in motion. The story of police brutality swaps the frequent narrative, presenting the story of two people who refuse to be oppressed by standing up to authority. There will be no spoilers here but know that “Queen & Slim” isn’t a manifesto, it’s a personal story about how quickly lives, ripe with possibility and promise, can be changed forever.
With terrific performances “Queen & Slim” transcends the outlaws-on-the-lam genre. Instead it is a timely humanistic drama that combines resilience with despair.