A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Depicts the sexism of the period: "You scythe like a girl," Philip tells a friend; he later says to Rachel that "only spinsters teach, and widows remarry as soon as possible or pawn their wedding rings." But these messages are subverted by the strength and tenacity of the story's female characters.
Positive Role Models
Characters are complex, interesting, and flawed. Rachel wishes for independence, a noble and rarely realized goal in her era; the way she goes about achieving it is somewhat devious (or is it?). Philip is mainly driven by emotion and often acts impulsively despite advice from well-meaning loved ones. No notable diversity in the cast.
Violence & Scariness
A man roughly grab's a woman's arm while demanding "kiss me"; later, he grabs her by the throat as she repeats "Stop it! Let go of me!" A woman on a horse falls off a cliff (off screen); viewers see her dead body face-down on the beach, fully clothed, with no blood. The horse is on the beach kicking his legs; a man with a gun shoots him (viewers don't see the impact), and then the horse lies still.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple has sex on the ground, while clothed; there's moaning and thrusting. Afterward, the woman pulls up her skirt (viewers see the raised skirt from behind but not her body) and uses the man's handkerchief to clean up. A couple kisses and crawls into bed together, then the camera cuts away. A nude man is briefly seen from behind as he jumps into the ocean for a swim.
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Language is vintage-genteel for the most part, but there's one "f--king" and one "s--t," plus "damn," "oh my god" as an exclamation, and the very occasional insult: "You're a fool!"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character smokes a pipe in one scene; dinner guests drink liquor, and party guests drink something out of brown jugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Cousin Rachel is a period drama based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier and starring Rachel Weisz. It has more sex and violence than many movies set in similar eras. There's a moment of sexual violence in which a man holds a woman's arms and demands "kiss me!" while she says forcefully to stop and let her go; he briefly chokes her. Another disturbing scene shows the aftermath of a woman and a horse falling off a cliff; viewers see her dead and face-down, and while the horse is initially still moving, it's soon shot (off screen) and then lies still. A couple has sex on the ground with their clothes on; the man thrusts and moans while the woman looks stoic. After they're finished, she borrows his handkerchief and, turning away from the camera, raises her skirt to clean up. A man is briefly visible naked from behind when he jumps into the water. Language is mostly clean, but there is one "f--king," as well as a "s--t" and a "damn." A character smokes a pipe, and party and dinner guests drink liquor and wine; one character gets drunk and sloppy while waiting for a picnic to start. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Mysterious, deliberate, and nuanced, this slow-burning drama could well bore the pants off teens but holds enchantment for fans of Du Maurier and vintage British dramas. Expect candles, beds with draperies, bonnets, bumpy wagon rides, and scything -- as well as a modern-minded female character who may or may not be up to no good in pursuit of money. Weisz's Rachel is a complicated woman who alternately plies Philip with motherly and carnal attentions, for reasons the drama never quite makes clear. Is she pulling a con job in the most effective way possible, taking all of Philip's money while convincing him it's his idea? Or is she a sincerely grieving widow who's reeling from the aggressive attentions of yet another man who wants too much from her?
The long moments when characters sit slowly drinking tea, reading letters out loud, or tossing bales of hay around a barn make My Cousin Rachel's sudden, shocking scenes of sex and violence all the punchier. In between, it may seem like not much happens, but all the drama is in Weisz's expressive face and her presence, which is so strong that even when she's off screen, all the other characters are gossiping and/or speculating about her. It all builds to a shocking, enigmatic climax that won't settle any arguments about her character but will provide plenty of conversation after the movie's over. It's not showy, but it's riveting nonetheless.
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