Doomed Romance: Lily James on her rocky road to Manderley in Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’

The word has gone out — no personal questions please. Lily James, for reasons that will be obvious to anyone possessing a smartphone, is trying her best to keep matters private on the down-low this week, and one has the distinct impression that, were one daft enough to ask via Zoom ‘how’s the old love life then, Lil’, a troop of Netflix operatives would emerge from behind your sofa with a butterfly net.

We, of course, couldn’t care less about any of that — our business is film, and Ben Wheatley’s remake of Rebecca, in which Lily co-stars with Armie Hammer. He is Maxim de Winter, a Cornish aristocrat with a shady past who’s swanning around the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s when a pretty but badly dressed young woman catches his eye.

She (Ms James) is a mild and meek dormouse, the paid companion of Mrs Van Hopper (Ann Dowd), a fearsome socialite and grade A harpy who treats the unfortunate girl like dirt. Orphaned at any early age, she has no confidence and no one to protect her from the whims of Mrs Van H, until de Winter sweeps her off her feet and whisks her away to Manderley, his stately pile atop a Cornish cliff.

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