My Cousin Rachel

Whenever a film adaptation of a novel is released I always plan to read the book before I watch the film version, but I rarely manage to do so. However, with My Cousin Rachel I actually finished the novel only two days before seeing the film at the cinema.

Philip Ashley lives on his cousin Ambrose’s estate in Cornwall, and while Ambrose is abroad in Italy Philip receives a letter from him informing him that he has married. However, a few months later Philip receives more letters from Ambrose that seem to suggest that his new wife Rachel is trying to kill him. After Ambrose’s death, Rachel arrives in Cornwall and Philip is determined to dislike her, but things aren’t that simple.

Rachel Weisz is fantastic as Rachel. She is sure of herself and knows how to use her sexuality to her advantage, all the while being completely unreadable and we are never sure whether she really is guilty or not. Sam Claflin is also very good as the innocent and naive Philip. The locations of the film is absolutely beautiful, both the scenes in Cornwall and the brief scenes in Italy.

Although in general this is a successful adaptation, as the novel was so familiar in my mind I was very aware of the few changes there were. Some changes I didn’t mind at all and could understand why they had been made, for example, sex between Rachel and Philip is only hinted at in the novel but is shown (to a certain extent) in the film, and although at the beginning I was a little unsure about the fact that we weren’t actually going to see Philip and Ambrose together (Claflin plays both) by the end I didn’t think that it was needed. However, there were some other changes that I felt made Rachel seem more innocent than she does in the novel, such as Philip finding the laburnum seeds outside rather than in Rachel’s room. Nevertheless, I thought this was a strong adaptation of the novel, and well worth a watch.

 

Me Before You

I was very excited to see this film as I’d read the novel by JoJo Moyes about 2 years ago and absolutely loved it, even though it broke my heart. It’s the story of a young woman called Louisa Clark who becomes a companion for Will Traynor, a man who became quadriplegic after a motorbike accident.

I loved the film, partly because it has stayed close to the book (JoJo Moyes also wrote the screenplay) and because the casting is spot on. Emilia Clarke is perfect as clumsy Louisa, Sam Claflin is cold and distant initially as Will but warms gradually as the film goes on, and the chemistry between them is fantastic. They are supported by great actors including Charles Dance and Janet McTeer. Although it is overall a sad film, there are also plenty of funny and heartwarming moments throughout.

There may be possible spoilers in the next paragraph.

There have been some protests about the film by disability campaigners, but for me I felt it was the story of one man’s choice to end his life. In no way does the film or book suggest for one second that all disabled people are better off dead, which from what I understand is what a lot of the protests have been about. It also isn’t a decision that is taken lightly by the character, and it is his own decision – he isn’t forced, persuaded or coerced by anyone else. I recognise that the debate about the right to die is highly emotive and complicated, and I understand that people may be upset about the content of the film, but it is one character’s story, not a rule book.