Netflix's Rebecca remake blasted as 'lifeless drivel' as critics urge streamer to leave classics alone

CRITICS have savaged Netflix's adaptation of the gothic novel Rebecca, calling it a 'flat tyre'.

Barely averaging more than two stars per review, the star-studded retelling of the classic novel brings with it an incredible cast and is set on the Cornish coast, but not even that could save it from the critics' harsh words.

Rebecca is directed by Ben Wheatley and tells the story of the whirlwind romance of handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) and a newly married young woman (Lily James).

They arrive at Manderley – Maxim’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast.

The unnamed wife soon finds herself battling the shadow of Maxim’s first wife, the elegant and urbane Rebecca.

Maxim's late wife's haunting legacy is kept alive by Manderley’s sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas).


The film dropped on Netflix today but it did not take long for some of the world's most esteemed critics to savage it.

Vanity Fair said the latest adaptation of the gothic novel was "barely worth a look at all" because it had "no spark".

"You can’t just throw trendy actors of the day into a classic and figure that enough," argued Vanity Fair's chief critic Richard Lawson.

"Didn’t we learn that fairly recently with The Great Gatsby? These grand old houses of literature need more care than that.

"Rearrange the furniture all you want, but do be sure to use it well."

While over at Slant Magazine, critic Chris Baranti blasted Wheately fornot being able to craft "characters that are more than the sum of their archetypal parts".

"It’s an attractive and fairly shallow bauble of a thing that ticks off the story’s shock revelations in an efficient, if not particularly surprising, fashion," he wrote.

Laura Miller at Slate criticised James and Hammer's performances as missing the mark and like many critics pointed out they were too close in age to be playing these characters, because in the book there's almost two decades age difference between the new husband and wife.

"This adaptation is all still waters and no depth," Miller wrote.

Many critics also argued against the adaptation's move to modernise the story to try and attract younger viewers.

As a result, the new film has turned James' character into a 'strong female lead' to be more on trend, rather than the meek person she was originally written as.

"It seems that at some point in the film’s creation there was a meeting in which it was agreed that a modern audience wouldn’t find the original character ‘likeable’ and therefore the writers were tasked with modernising her, bringing her in line with the modern appetite for so-called Strong Female Characters," wrote The Telegraph's Rebecca Reid.


"Unfortunately, this feminist rehash of the classic just doesn’t work."

Reid continued: "There are plenty of weak women (and weak people) in the world. Suggesting that all women have to be strong and empowered is no more forward-thinking than suggesting that we all have to be docile and meek. It would be more genuinely feminist to allow the reality that female characters are often deeply flawed, and that a weak female character has just as much right to exist on screen as the strong ones."

The series is based on Daphne du Maurier’s beloved 1938 gothic novel of the same name and sold 2.8 million copies between its publication in 1938 and 1965.

It has been adapted numerous times for stage and screen, including a 1939 play by Daphne herself, and the film, Rebecca (1940), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

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