Netflix is drawing from classic Hollywood next week with the release of Rebecca, a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Best Picture winner and the acclaimed '30s novel by Daphne du Maurier. The movie centers on the dramatic tension between a newly married couple played by Armie Hammer and Lily James as the mysteriously memories of his first wife casts a shadow over their happiness.
The power of the legendary story of Rebecca is how important and present the titular character has on its main characters without the first Ms. de Winter actually appearing in the film. When CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell recently spoke with Armie Hammer and Lily James, they spoke about the omnipresent Rebecca character you never see.
It may be strange to watch a movie about a character the audience never gets to officially meets, but as Lily James and Armie Hammer explain, this is very much by design. As James said during the exclusive interview, she was constantly thinking about Rebecca throughout the production of the film because it's the nature of her character to always have her on her mind. As the Mamma Mia actress teases, her character, simply known as “The Narrator” and Mrs. de Winter in the book, becomes absolutely obsessed with the woman her husband was with prior to her.
As pointed out, there’s a beauty in the film not showing Rebecca through flashbacks because it allows the actors and viewers to completely fill their idea of her with their imagination. This unique concept is something often lost on film because we always expect the story to be shown to us through visuals. Rebecca is intriguing because we all are able to actively dream up our own perceptions of the title character.
Lily James alluded to Rebecca’s unique ability to connect to our present day infatuation with social media, even if it’s very much a period piece. Oftentimes, social media posts guide our imaginations about a person in specific ways that create unrealistic ideals about someone. And in this case James’ character is guided by the memory of someone to toxic depths.
Rebecca famously was adapted to film in 1940 as part of Alfred Hitchcock’s prestigious work with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine as Mr and Mrs. de Winter. While speaking to CinemaBlend in the interview, Armie Hammer also told us that he decided against watching the Hitchcock version while making Rebecca in order to stay focused on his own performance.
Rebecca has debuted with mixed reviews overall, but CinemaBlend has given the film a 3.5 out of 5 in its review, with Eric Eisenberg attributing its “stylistic flair” and Hammer and James performances as its strong points. Rebecca will be available to stream on Netflix on Wednesday, October 21.