This remake up of Daphne DuMaurier’s classic tale isn't up to the level of Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 classic, but it's a perfectly good version of the spooky tale of psychological haunting. Swept off her feet by the dashing and rather older Maxim DeWinter (Charles Dance), the new Mrs. DeWinter (Emilia Fox) wonders if she’ll ever measure up to his expectations. Unsure of Maxim's love, the mousey young bride becomes the object of gossipy speculation by society dowagers like Mrs. Van Hopper (Faye Dunaway). Far more insidious tongue-wagging awaits at Maxim's ancestral home, Manderley. Everywhere she turns, the second Mrs. DeWinter sees reminders of Maxim's bewitching first wife, Rebecca, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Diana Rigg), remains devoted to her former mistress.
Knowing that it will antagonize the master of the house, Danvers spitefully encourages his new wife to don one of Rebecca's gowns. Mrs. Dancers preys on Mrs. DeWinter's low self-esteem, going so far as to suggest that suicide would rescue Rebecca's successor from the hopeless situation in which she finds herself. But Maxim wasn't as fond of his late wife as his new bride fears. Although Mrs. Danvers adored Rebecca without reservation, Maxim had cause to despise his cold-hearted adulterous wife; in fact, an inquest is opened to determine his possible culpability in scuttling the rowboat in which Rebecca drowned. Driven mad by the love that dares not speak its name, Mrs. Danvers sets fire to Manderley. Will Maxim and his vulnerable new wife ever be able to exorcize Rebecca's ghost? The gothic splendor and clandestine passion of Hitchcock's masterpiece is entirely absent from this new version, and the absence of magic can't be blamed on the bland color cinematography alone. Most of the trouble lies with the cast: Dance is too smarmy in the role first played by Laurence Olivier; Rigg's Mrs. Danvers is more obvious than Judith Anderson's and Fox is simply too spirited as the downtrodden second Mrs. De Winter, the part that Joan Fontaine made her own. Christopher Gunning's new score, however, is superb.
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: This remake up of Daphne DuMaurier’s classic tale isn't up to the level of Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 classic, but it's a perfectly good version of the spooky tale of psychological haunting. Swept off her feet by the dashing and rather older Maxim DeWinter (C… (more)