Rebecca Parent Guide
This film is like a Russian nesting doll, with a horror film inside a thriller that's inside a romance.
Parent Movie Review
Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) is a dashing widower, who happens to be the owner of Manderley, one of England’s most coveted estates. His late wife, Rebecca, put Manderley on the social map, with her dazzling beauty and stylish parties. Everyone is astonished when Mr. de Winter marries again, this time to a very young woman (Lily James) who’s been working as a paid companion for a social climbing American (Ann Dowd) in the south of France.
No one is more surprised than his new bride.
Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca is the story of the second Mrs. De Winter. Never named in the novel or the film, she struggles to establish her own identity and assume the role so triumphantly inhabited by her predecessor. This is a tale with two facets – the new wife’s internal struggles with her crippling sense of inferiority and the central intrigue of the novel, complete with a startling plot twist. The question for any movie critic is how well this film manages to portray both parts of the story.
The answer is that director Ben Wheatley has pulled it off, creating a movie he compares to a Russian doll, with a “horror film that lives inside a thriller that lives inside a romance”. He’s managed to bring all three to life but is thankfully light on traditional horror elements. Forget blood spatters and creepy music - in this story, the horror comes from the characters’ minds and hearts; from the dark wells of memory.
Since this is such a richly atmospheric production, it’s fortunate the cast are up to the challenge. Lily James shines as the eager-to-please, somewhat gauche, young bride and Kristin Scott Thomas is icily contemptuous as the malevolent housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. Armie Hammer broods and is suitably haunted but the women really own the movie.
Rebecca is a lot of fun to watch – although I must admit to loving the novel, which doubtless biases me in the movie’s favor. However, when it comes to family viewing, there are mixed messages that parents might not want to share with their teens. I’m leery of giving more details lest I give away the plot twist. What I can say is that the movie provides positive examples of loyalty, devotion, and the power of love to overcome fear. On the flip side, it also has troubling plotlines which excuse criminal behavior. That said, the movie’s storyline can spark some very interesting conversations with teens who enjoy debating deep issues.
Aside from the messaging, the movie comes with some disturbing violent scenes, especially an on-screen suicide and discussions of suicide and murder. There are also moments of passionate kissing between the newlyweds. I was annoyed by a completely unnecessary long distance shot that shows a naked couple having sex on a boat deck. Thankfully they are so far away that no anatomical details are visible, but their nudity and sexual activity is abundantly clear.
If you’re looking for a cheerful romance, Rebecca isn’t the movie for you. This film is a dark love story that’s paradoxically drenched in color; an emotionally rich, brooding, gothic tale filled with pain and slivers of happiness. If you want a movie that will make you smile, make you angry, and make you think, this could be what you’re looking for.Directed by Ben Wheatley. Starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Keeley Hawes. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release October 21, 2020. Updated October 21, 2020
Watch the trailer for Rebecca
Rating & Content Info
Why is Rebecca rated PG-13? Rebecca is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some sexual content, partial nudity, thematic elements and smoking.
Violence: There is mention of a person drowning. Vines wrap around and pull at a woman in a dream sequence. Scratches are shown on a woman’s arm. A main character verbally bullies another person on several occasions. A main character encourages someone to commit suicide. A shrouded body is seen. A main character loads a firearm. A character tries to get someone to shoot them. There is a verbal description of a murder. There is a verbal description of deliberate damage done to a boat. A man punches another man in the face, causing a nosebleed. A main character commits arson. A main character commits suicide.
Sexual Content: There is a brief scene of a naked couple having sex: this is shot from a great distance. A man and woman kiss passionately while he lays on top of her. A married couple kiss passionately. Mention a man of “trapping a man between your legs”. A married couple are shown in bed; his bare chest is visible. A man puts his hands on a woman’s thighs against her will. There is mention of an adulterous relationship. A married couple kiss passionately; he’s not wearing a shirt.
Profanity: There are a handful of terms of deity and a few coarse words used in the film.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main characters smoke cigarettes. Main characters drink alcohol in a celebratory context. A main character is shown drinking alcohol; he’s intoxicated. People drink alcohol at a party. A main character drinks alcohol in a moment of stress.
Page last updated October 21, 2020
Rebecca Parents' Guide
Why does Maxim make the choices he makes? What is the cost to himself and to others? What do you think he could have done instead? What decisions does his second wife make? Do you agree with her choices?
Do you think justice was done in this story? Why or why not?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The novel this film is based on, Rebecca, was written by Daphne DuMaurier.
Jane Austen sends up the gothic romance genre in Northanger Abbey. Shannon Hale writes a lighthearted novel in the genre in Death in Austenland.
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a classic novel featuring a young governess who falls in love with her employer. But there’s something she doesn’t know…
Charlotte’s sister, Emily Bronte, wrote Wuthering Heights, a disturbing tale of obsessive love and death.
Related home video titles:
If you can’t get enough of this story, a TV miniseries version of Rebecca was made in 1997. It stars Charles Dance, Emilia Fox, and Diana Rigg.
Another love story involving a dark secret is the classic Jane Eyre(2011),
Phantom of the Operasets a tale of obsessive love to music.