Even without the Hitchcock original demanding unfavorable comparison, this adaptation comes across as a not-entirely-successful venture. Rebecca will still draw plenty of audiences, and there may be those who prefer this longer, prettier version with its newish bookends (the extended courtship on the Riviera and a finale in Cairo following a trial). The entire venture has good bones thanks to the original 1938 novel, previous screen adaptations for reference, and beautifully-crafted period settings and costumes meant to additionally evoke classical Hollywood style.
But the remaining elements simply don't pull together well enough to summon the story's natural suspense or even a deep interest in the characters.
Scott Thomas is the most compelling in her tight-lipped take on the scheming Mrs. Danvers, but Hammer feels surprisingly stiff. In trying to paint Maxim as emotionally distant, the character instead comes across as lacking profundity. James is believable as the ingénue at the film's start, but less so as the take-charge wife at the end. Parts of her developing psychological breakdown are handled especially clumsily, like one heavy-handed fusion of images of James collapsing, red-lit party-goers chanting "Rebecca," a body floating in the water, and fireworks exploding.
Forgoing some of the moodiness and dark tones of the original and extending the narration to just over two hours have ultimately undermined the power of this story.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.