The international trailer for My Cousin Rachel is out, and oh boy is it ever international. The film, from writer/director Robert Michell (Notting Hill), is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 novel from starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin. Du Maurier wrote Rebecca, and this is in the same gothic romance vein: Claflin’s character becomes obsessed with Weisz, despite suspecting she poisoned her last husband. But as you can see from the trailer, there’s a twist: an international twist. Weisz and Claflin are cousins!
Thank God it’s an international trailer, because it’s hard to imagine how a provincial American trailer house would deal with such sophisticated continental themes. Actually, there’s no need to imagine, because this isn’t the first time My Cousin Rachel has been filmed. Here’s how 20th Century Fox tried to sell the Olivia de Havilland/Richard Burton version in 1952—it looks like a different movie entirely:
As you can see, in order to pander to the puritanical tastes of 1950s America, Fox had to steer away from the lustful cousins thing and played up the gothic romance and mystery aspects. Besides the title, the closest they get to acknowledging the theme of, let’s say, “light incest,” is the narrator’s line, “Of her they said, ‘A woman to love, but not to marry.’ ” Except that, although it’s true people say not to marry your cousin, most people also say not to love him or her either. At least not that way.
But this is 2017 and we’re looking at the international trailer for a new adaptation, and we all know what international means: a sophisticated, European look at what was, after all, a European novel. We also all know what “a sophisticated European look at what was, after all, a European novel” means: cousins making out with cousins, Europeanly! Is Rachel still suspected of poisoning her first husband, Ambrose (also her cousin, incidentally)? Is anyone even playing Ambrose? Who knows? But if you want a film filled with smoldering looks between cousins, despite the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t understand their passion, this is the movie for you.
Which means, of course, that however the full movie turns out, the international trailer for My Cousin Rachel looks a lot like another movie we all know and love. No, not Cousin Cousine or its American remake with Ted Danson, but the film the Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman called “a ‘relative’ masterpiece of complex eroticism.” I’m speaking, of course, of Les Cousins Dangereux, the French erotic thriller that George Michael on Arrested Development—a character who is also in love with his cousin—becomes obsessed with:
It’s hard to tell if the new version of My Cousin Rachel will be more like du Marier’s novel or the Les Cousins Dangereux cousin-makeout-fest the trailer promises. Either way, it’s gonna do boffo box office in Newport Beach.