Film of the book: ‘Rebecca’ (2020)

Does the new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic 1938 novel deserve all the critics’ spite? Absolutely not.

While not as atmospheric and tense as Alfred Hitchcock’s famous 1940 film, Ben Wheatley’s version is very watchable and it crucially restores the ending. The settings are beautiful, the attention to detail impressive, the actors likeable. The characters are even a little improved upon, as the second Mrs de Winter (played by Lily James) is more lively and undergoes more of a development throughout the story, while Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) is more believable and human. Kristin Scott Thomas makes a fantastic Mrs Danvers, the creepy housekeeper. I’m not sure how much a viewer unfamiliar with the book would enjoy this adaptation, but certainly it shouldn’t be compared too much with Hitchcock’s film. It’s not trying to be a remake. The tone is more romantic than sinister, which will disappoint anyone hoping for the original gothic flavour. I like the focus on the love story because it’s different. There are a few details changed from the book, particularly towards the end, but generally the plot is quite close.

The film is not so good that I’d consider watching it more than once, however. It could have been improved upon, I’ll admit that. Don’t expect too much and you may be pleasantly surprised. As in the vast majority of cases, the book is still better than all its screen adaptations.

Low-resolution image from Wikipedia.

18 thoughts on “Film of the book: ‘Rebecca’ (2020)”

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the film. It’s good, rather than great 😉

  1. I haven’t watched either films but I have read the book, I love the book and if I am being honest I probably won’t watch the film. Great post xx

    1. If you love the book then you don’t need to see the films, they will probably disappoint you 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  2. Embarrassingly (because I am a Rebecca) I still haven’t read the book. I have seen the Hitchcock adaptation and enjoyed it. I’d give this movie a shot, based on your recommendation, and then I’ll read the book–and by all rights I should love it!

    1. Well I’m sure there are many Rebeccas who haven’t read Rebecca 😉 Interesting how she dominates the story without being a character in it – we only hear of her through others’ perspectives.

  3. I couldn’t agree more! The movie isn’t horrible (it is filmed beautifully!), but it was pretty forgettable. Though I’m slightly biased because I love Lily James in anything!

    1. Glad you agree 🙂 it did look wonderful but more style over substance maybe. I thought Lily James was very good.

  4. I’m not surprised to hear that you think the book is better, I can’t imagine any adaptation ever being better. However, I do have this on my Netflix list and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it when I get to it 😊

    1. Yes that’s my conclusion to most of my ‘film of the book’ posts – the films are never really a good substitute for the book! I hope you enjoy the film when you get round to it.

  5. Filming this as a romance rather than a gothic thriller is an interesting idea. I’m looking forward to seeing Rebecca soon. I’ll probably watch the Alfred Hitchcock version after I’ve seen the 2020 film.

    1. The two films are quite different, I would still go for the Hitchcock if I was to watch one of them again. Which one you prefer depends on whether you like romance or gothic best 🙂

  6. I haven’t seen this yet, but I’m not sure I ever saw the Hitchcock one either. I’ve seen one version, but I think it may have been a mini series? It was quite new, comparatively. I still liked the book better, of course 😀

    1. I have only seen the two films, not encountered a TV series. Of course, the book is better, it’s usually the case 😉 they could have made this version creepy but they didn’t.

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