I love the book ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier, and the Hitchcock film version, starring Joan Fontaine. So when I saw that a new version of the film was released this year on Netflix, I knew I had to watch it!
Just like the second Mrs DeWinter in the book, this film version of ‘Rebecca’ has been compared to the original Hitchcock version a lot! And yet, even as a loyal Du Maurier fan, I really enjoyed it, and I think it stayed true to the novel while also adding some glamour, mystery, and romance to please the more modern audience.
‘Rebecca’ is about a young woman, working as a lady’s companion in Monte Carlo. When her boss comes down with an illness, she is given leave to explore on her own, and she soon meets the mysterious Maxim DeWinter. Older, charming, and holding a certain allure for the young girl, she is soon swept off her feet. Maxim has recently been widowed, and his luxurious lifestyle and vivacious late wife, Rebecca, are talked about in hushed tones.
Mr DeWinter begins to spend everyday with the young narrator, and by the end of the trip he has proposed to her, whisking her off to his old English home, Manderley, in the Cornish countryside.
At first the couple live a charmed life, but things start to go wrong as it becomes clear that the memory Mr DeWinter’s deceased wife still haunts the house. The narrator can’t help but feel second-best to the beautiful, sophisticated, famed Rebecca- and with the terrifying figure of Rebecca’s old maid Mrs Danvers reminding her of Rebecca at any opportunity, she finds it hard to settle into her new married life.
Throughout the book, the narrator feels young and unsophisticated compared to Maxim and his old wife, and as the book goes on she feels more and more out of her depth living at the imposing and intimidating Manderley.
I really loved this adaptation of Du Maurier’s book. I think Lily James was a great choice for the second Mrs DeWinter (despite perhaps being a little too beautiful for the role!) and her outfits throughout the film were gorgeous, and absolutely perfect for the period.
I also think Armie Hammer played Maxim DeWinter well. I’ve seen a lot of reviews suggesting he’s too young to play the imposing Mr DeWinter, but I think his charming demeanour made him perfect for the role and definitely gave him that mysterious air that makes Maxim such an unusual character.
This film adaptation was a lot “flashier” than the Hitchcock version, and it definitely evoked the vibrancy of the period. The two characters also had a greater romance than in the book, but I think this worked really well for a modern adaptation. I loved how, right at the end, it was the narrator who took the main part- and this made it slightly more modern and empowering than the original film adaptation.
Overall, I loved this film adaptation. While there were some aspects that were not necessarily “true” to the book, the film managed to effectively bring the storyline to life for a modern audience- as well as keeping true to the original plot. I would recommend trying this film, and I enjoyed it a lot.
What do you think of my thoughts on the Second Mrs DeWinter? Do you enjoy watching film adaptations of your favourite books? What did you think of this adaptation?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Happy reading x