From the start, I found this film to be thoroughly engaging, although I did want to give Philip (Sam Claflin) a good slap for being so naive and stupid, but then I had to step back and wonder if this is what all young men of 25 were like back in the 19th century. He behaved like a lovesick teenage girl and the annoying part of it was that no one, not even his guardian, never mind is lawyer, had the guts to step up and stop him. 19th century manners and all that have a lot to answer for!
The image that is spun of Rachel before you meet her, is that of a deceptive and manipulative woman who will stop at nothing to get her hands on the family fortune, thanks to his Uncle Ambrose’s letters. These sent Philip into a tailspin and sent him on the warpath. When we actually meet Rachel, she is completely different from what we expect (and Philip) and this acts to disarm us. Is this intentional or is it all a ruse? We are told that Ambrose died of a brain tumour, which sent him mad. Is this true or is this a lie, as Philip believes, to some extent, throughout the story?
Rachel is a strong, independent, outspoken, sexually free and confident woman; something diametrically opposed to the norm in the 19th century.
I liked Rachel. She never strayed from who she was and she certainly never asked for any of what was bestowed upon her. Is this down to her feminine wiles or down to a hot-headed young man?
You may wonder why I pose so many questions, yet this is exactly what the film raises – questions – but not in an annoying way. The questions it raises are there to make you ponder and chew over various scenarios. The ending is also a huge question as, while we never truly know Rachel’s motivations, it doesn’t leave us stamping our feet and demanding more.
As a writer, I found this tale broke many of the no-no’s in writing, the prime one being leaving your audience wondering. I didn’t feel cheated by this tale. I found it engaging, captivating and mysterious. I am now intrigued to see how far from the book it diverged, given the cast weren’t allowed to read it before filming……intriguing, is it not?