Ten minutes into this film I was truck by its similarity to a much better film Rebecca. There is the same three-way power struggle, the taking of a young awkward woman in servile employment into a house where she is made unwelcome and the debonair but unreliable Reynolds Woodcock resembles Maxim de Winter and even more his sinister controlling sister Cyril Mrs Danvers.
The updated story is of a 1950s fashion house of dressmakers to the rich and famous Woodcock whose creative force is the pernickety Reynolds Woodcock and the business run by his sister Cyril.
Reynolds is played by Daniel Day Lewis, which he says is his last film role, and Cyril by Lesley Manville.
Both give powerful performances, less so Vicky Krieps as the German waitress Alma, whom Reynolds meets and invites back to the house. She is rather staid and stolid both in posture and delivery of lines.
I felt it was likely that Reynolds would be homosexual. He certainly is a mother’s boy, with a lock of her hair stitched into his jacket, but he comes over as a confirmed batchelor unable to alter his routine to accommodate a relationship. Alma is more scheming whilst Cyril is implacable in her control of her brother and the House of Woodcock. The story takes a dark Gothic turn which I won’t spoil and the end like a French film is left in the air.
His manner, voice, his fawning over lady clients, his inability to tolerate any distractions to his concentration, are all beautifully conveyed but this is not enough to redeem the film. It’s difficult to gauge to whom it would appeal possibly the ‘silver’ audience but many would of them would surely make the comparison with Rebecca
Wait for the DVD or release on Netflix.