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.