My Cousin Rachel is not your typical period piece. - From BuzzFeed
Claflin is a jarring fit for the part of Philip, a strapping man in the role of callow boy, which only adds to My Cousin Rachel’s sense of dreamlike malleability, as does the fact that Claflin also plays the doomed Ambrose in a few wordless scenes.
Philip isn’t the product of some sort of aristocratic parthenogenetic process, but he feels like he might as well be, out there in his country-estate-as-boys-club in which “the only women allowed in the house were the dogs.” Early in the film, upon reading a letter from Ambrose about falling for Rachel in Italy, Philip wonders dismissively why his caretaker would have any need for women when he has Philip — a sentiment that doesn’t come across as childish so much as surreally stunted when it comes out of the mouth of a 30-year-old actor.
Rachel is very feminine, in the sense that she has had to learn to navigate life as a woman in a world dictated by men, to tamp down her feelings for her own protection, to charm and disarm while trying to keep people at an appropriate distance, a distance she miscalculates when it comes to Philip.
My Cousin Rachel is overheated in ways that are sometimes funny, especially when characters try to warn the heedless Philip off the older woman with euphemisms that stop just short of waggling eyebrows (You understand?
The film is guided by the question of whether Rachel is guilty, but ends up posing one about why Philip thinks it’s his place to decide, why he’s so certain of his right to have sway over not just this woman’s character, but her very life.