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A man and a woman in love go for a walk.

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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

Imagine marrying the love of your life and being whisked out of poverty to your new husband’s posh family estate on the English coast. Now, imagine that when you get there you learn that your husband, Maxim de Winter, recently lost the love of his life, Rebecca. And then you see that her name and presence live on in the home.

This is the reality of the new Mrs. de Winter.

Unlike Rebecca, Mrs. de Winter evidently cannot compare to the former’s exquisite beauty, charm and commanding presence. The new Lady of the manor might have been able to ignore those comparisons, if it weren’t for her husband’s dark secrets and the woman in charge of the house: Mrs. Danvers.

See, Mrs. Danvers loved Rebecca, and she’s not too keen on Mrs. de Winter as the newest addition to Manderley, the 300-year-old estate. She’d prefer Rebecca’s memory to live on, untarnished. And the only way to ensure that Rebecca’s name endures, of course, is to blot out the new Mrs. de Winter altogether.

Positive Elements

After he loses his temper, Maxim apologizes to Mrs. de Winter for his behavior. He also apologizes to her after he falsely accuses her of having an affair.

Mrs. de Winter stands up for Maxim and fights to clear his name. She also learns to become her own woman, choosing to live outside of the shadow of Maxim’s former wife, Rebecca.

Spiritual Elements

Mrs. de Winter claims she doesn’t believe in ghosts after she’s told that her new husband, Maxim, lives in a home with the ghost of his deceased wife, Rebecca. Later, Mrs. de Winter thinks she sees Rebecca walking around the estate.

Sexual Content

Maxim and Mrs. de Winter flirt, kiss and make out often, once while he’s in boxers and she’s covered by a sheet in their bed. It’s insinuated elsewhere that the two have sex on the beach (we see him shirtless and her in a bathing suit). Mrs. de Winter spots a naked couple having sex on their boat (we see this from afar for a brief moment). Mrs. de Winter lies in a bathing suit and the side of her breast is exposed. Elsewhere she wears a lace nightgown.

Maxim, as well as many others, believe that Rebecca was pregnant with her illicit lover’s baby when she died.

We learn that Rebecca was apparently quite promiscuous, something Mrs. Danvers makes clear that she supported. Men were nothing but “playthings” to Rebecca, including her husband, Maxim. Maxim shares that even when he confronted Rebecca’s behavior, she obviously had had no intention of ceasing her extramarital affairs because she loved the attention they brought her.

A few men comment on how Rebecca was the most beautiful woman they had ever known. One man in particular asks Maxim if he was OK “sharing” Rebecca with so many men, and the man then wonders if he’d be interested in sharing his new wife, Mrs. de Winter.

Maxim falsely accuses Mrs. de Winter of being unfaithful. Mrs. de Winter is also falsely accused by an elderly woman of trapping Maxim “between her legs.”

Violent Content

Much of the movie revolves around the mystery of how Rebecca died. Some believe that she drowned at sea (a female corpse is later found in the water). Others believe that she was killed by her husband, Maxim. Only one is true. 

Maxim graphically describes what his dead wife’s body looked like when he found her out at sea. Maxim loses his temper twice, once forcefully grabbing Mrs. de Winter’s wrist. Mrs. Danvers encourages Mrs. de Winter to commit suicide. A woman jumps into the sea and commits suicide.

Mrs. de Winter tells Maxim that her parents are dead and that she is used to being alone. A woman finds out she has ovarian cancer. Maxim punches a man in the face after he threatens his life.

Crude or Profane Language

A man uses the British exclamation “bloody!” Someone is accused of being a murdering “b–tard.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Men and women smoke cigarettes and consume various alcoholic drinks.

Other Negative Elements

Many people are often rude to Mrs. de Winter and intentionally try to undermine her marriage. They often point out that she is marrying above her “class” and that her husband is not truly in love with her. One such person, Mrs. Danvers, tells Mrs. de Winter that she is “worthless,” that her marriage will fail and that she is doomed to a life of unhappiness. 

A man confesses he has a gambling problem. A few women vomit, one from anxiety and the other from an illness. Mrs. Danvers manipulates her staff and lies to Mrs. de Winter. Mrs. de Winter and Maxim withhold vital information in court.

Conclusion

Netflix’s Rebecca is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 classic, as well as a film based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier.

The latest rendition plays out like a romantic psychological thriller as it attempts to keep viewers hooked until the last moment. And while the first half of this taut story may succeed in this attempt, the second half fails.

If you’ve seen the Netflix trailer for Rebecca and thought that this looks like a straight-up horror film, you might be surprised. In fact, the film isn’t sure of what it wants to be. But several other things are certain here: sexual content is laced throughout; violence and horror make cameo appearances; and nothing is ever as it seems.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).