A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Love can vanquish past traumas and get adults through challenging times.
Positive Role Models
The new Mrs. de Winter withstands quite a lot of abuse out of love for her husband and comes to his rescue when he's in trouble. He's also still reeling from past emotional suffering and fluctuates between sweetness and anger with his new wife. Mrs. Danvers was wholly devoted to her former charge, Rebecca, and continues to put her first above the living. Danvers treats the new wife cruelly. The two wives couldn't seem to be more different, one powerful and the other weak, but by story's end those roles are somewhat reversed.
Violence & Scariness
The new Mrs. de Winter starts to think she's going crazy when she sees an apparition, her husband (whose temper is famous) lashes out at her, she dreams about being swallowed alive by vines, and Mrs. Danvers goads her to give up her hopes for a happy marriage and even her life. A scene involves a loaded gun pointed at someone's stomach. A man punches another and gives him a bloody nose. Characters are said or seen to have suffered and/or died from influenza, cancer, suicide, murder, and heartbreak. Images show a woman's body floating under the water. A house is set on fire.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Maxim and his wife kiss passionately and have sex before and after marriage. No private body parts are seen beyond a man's bare chest. A woman tells a younger woman that when you "trap a man between your legs," he won't "stick around" for long. A woman is said to have had many affairs even while married. A man touches a woman's thighs suggestively as they ride a horse together.
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"Damn," "imbecile," "fool," "idiot," "stupid," "ghastly," "bugger off," "bloody annoying."
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Products & Purchases
Maxim is an eminently eligible bachelor because he's wealthy, owns one of the grandest mansions in England, stays in expensive hotels, vacations across Europe, and drives a Bentley. His home is filled with expensive items and his new wife is made to feel out of place because of her lower social class.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes and drink wine, champagne, and liquor in various settings, including dens, parties, hotel rooms, and restaurants. Men appear to be singing drunk at a party in the servants' quarters. Maxim seems drunk in a scene where he's recounting past events.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rebecca, based on the same novel as the 1940 Hitchcock film, is a mature mystery with more psychological than graphic content. The main character feels out of place as the new wife of a wealthy man, and her new home feels haunted by her husband's much-remembered first wife. A sinister housekeeper contributes to her discomfort, tricking her into missteps and at one point seeming to urge her to jump out a window. The husband has a bad temper and occasionally lashes out at her only to sweetly apologize later, and it turns out he too is suffering past emotional trauma. Graphic violence includes talk of suicide and murder, a loaded gun pointed directly at someone, a house set on fire, a man punched in the nose, a woman jumping off a cliff, and a body found dead at sea. Sex is only alluded to after passionate embraces and kissing, and is discussed mostly tangentially except for one accusation of "trapping" a man "between your legs." There's an awareness of social class, drinking and some smoking, and language that includes "damn," "imbecile," "fool," "idiot," "stupid," "ghastly," "bugger off," and "bloody annoying." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Even without the Hitchcock original demanding unfavorable comparison, this adaptation comes across as a not-entirely-successful venture. Rebecca will still draw plenty of audiences, and there may be those who prefer this longer, prettier version with its newish bookends (the extended courtship on the Riviera and a finale in Cairo following a trial). The entire venture has good bones thanks to the original 1938 novel, previous screen adaptations for reference, and beautifully-crafted period settings and costumes meant to additionally evoke classical Hollywood style. But the remaining elements simply don't pull together well enough to summon the story's natural suspense or even a deep interest in the characters.
Scott Thomas is the most compelling in her tight-lipped take on the scheming Mrs. Danvers, but Hammer feels surprisingly stiff. In trying to paint Maxim as emotionally distant, the character instead comes across as lacking profundity. James is believable as the ingénue at the film's start, but less so as the take-charge wife at the end. Parts of her developing psychological breakdown are handled especially clumsily, like one heavy-handed fusion of images of James collapsing, red-lit party-goers chanting "Rebecca," a body floating in the water, and fireworks exploding. Forgoing some of the moodiness and dark tones of the original and extending the narration to just over two hours have ultimately undermined the power of this story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.