Metacritic (5/10), Rotten Tomatoes (**+)
There’s an old saying in the movie business cautioning against remaking the classics. That’s especially true when a director attempts to follow in the footsteps of a legendary auteur. It’s advice that would have been well heeded with regard to director Ben Wheatley’s remake of the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock classic “Rebecca.” When a naïve, young lady’s traveling companion is swept off her feet by a wealthy English aristocrat in Monte Carlo, she’s soon overwhelmed by her new life when she joins him back at home as his new wife, becoming the lady of the house at his sprawling seaside estate, a mansion where the ghost of his deceased first wife allegedly still lives on – and with whom he is apparently still obsessed. While the film features a superb BAFTA-nominated production design, gorgeous cinematography, and excellent performances by Lily James, Kristen Scott Thomas and Ann Dowd, the suspense factor that made this picture’s predecessor a classic is virtually nonexistent here. Instead, this offering tediously rumbles along, tossing out occasional mildly interesting revelations but never reaching out and grabbing viewers in the way that a Hitchcockian-type tale should. The story even becomes somewhat at muddled as it moves toward its conclusion, diluting the impact of whatever modest chills it may have built up along the way. Indeed, this release is, once again, further proof that, when it comes to emulating cinematic icons, it’s generally best to leave well enough alone.