In My Cousin Rachel, Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin) is raised by his older cousin Ambrose (also played by Sam Claflin) after the death of Philip’s parents. While Philip is a child Ambrose isn’t interested in getting married and brings Philip up in a world of men and dogs.
When Ambrose becomes unwell and goes to Italy to recover, Philip eagerly looks forward to the return of his guardian. He shares the letters that Ambrose sends with good family friends, Nick (Iain Glen) and Louise (Holliday Grainger) Kendall. The letters tell of Ambrose’s slow recovery and of meeting and marrying their cousin Rachel. But soon after the wedding the letters change and Ambrose begins to fear for his life. Ambrose believes that his new bride is poisoning him and begs Philip to come and help.
By the time Philip arrives in Italy, Ambrose is dead and his bride has disappeared. Philip vows revenge on the woman he blames for his cousin’s death. When Philip finally has a chance to meet Rachel he finds himself powerless to fulfil his plans because he also starts to fall in love with her. Others warn Philip about Rachel but he doesn’t listen. Soon he starts to experience headaches and hallucinations, just as Ambrose did. Eventually Philip seeks Louise’s help to work out exactly what type of woman Rachel is. But because of tragic circumstances Philip is never truly able to solve this mystery.
Death; chronic illness; domestic violence
My Cousin Rachel has some violence. For example:
- Rachel is very distressed when she recounts how Ambrose used to choke her.
- Philip begs Rachel to kiss him. He puts his hands around her throat and then begins to choke her.
- Philip grabs hold of Rachel’s arm. She repeatedly and very fearfully tells him to let go. Eventually he does.
- Rachel brings a female companion into the house because she says she fears for her life and can’t be alone with Philip.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, My Cousin Rachel has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example, Philip screams at Rachel in a jealous rage. There are other times when Rachel and Philip have heated arguments. The angry shouting might scare some young viewers.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, My Cousin Rachel has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, Rachel and her horse fall off a cliff as the ground gives way beneath them. Rachel is shown dead on the beach far below. The horse is injured but alive and is then shown being shot.
The violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above might disturb children in this age group.
Nothing of concern
My Cousin Rachel has some sexual references. For example:
- As Philip arrives in Italy he hears first-hand accounts of his cousin Rachel. She is described as a ‘passionate woman’. The man who says this does so with a smirk on his face and asks Philip if he understands.
- Rachel has a dear friend who is rumoured to ‘prefer men’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
My Cousin Rachel shows some use of substances. For example:
- Rachel gives Philip permission to smoke in her sitting room.
- Ambrose is shown encouraging a young Philip to drink with the men even though Philip is only a child.
- There are repeated scenes of drinking throughout the movie, normally with meals or at parties.
- Philip tells Nick that he and Louise are welcome to come to the house for his birthday to drink to his health.
- Rachel is always brewing various herbal teas. It isn’t clear what’s in them and whether she’s poisoning people. Occasionally viewers are given the impression that the herbal teas have hallucinogenic properties.
Nudity and sexual activity
My Cousin Rachel shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Rachel bursts into Philip’s room when he’s washing himself. His torso is bare.
- Philip goes swimming naked. His nude bottom is seen clearly as he approaches the water.
- Philip goes to Rachel’s room one night and says that there’s something he’s missing but that he won’t ask for it. Rachel kisses him and leads him to her bed. As he lies beside her, the scene shows bare legs and thighs. Afterwards Philip is seen standing naked at the window. He looks at Rachel, who is sleeping wrapped in a sheet.
- Philip takes Rachel on a picnic in the woods. As he convinces her to sit on the ground he lies on top of her and whispers that this is what he wants for his birthday. The scene cuts out and resumes with them adjusting their clothes and dressing.
There is no product placement in My Cousin Rachel.
There is some coarse language in My Cousin Rachel. For example, there is some swearing. There are also gender-based insults, including the phrase ‘like a girl’ used in a negative way and the statement that ‘the only women ever allowed inside were the dogs’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
My Cousin Rachel is a mysterious drama, which shows that things aren’t always as they seem. This movie isn’t likely to interest children under 13 years, and it also has themes of death, chronic illness and domestic violence. Therefore, we don’t recommend it for children under 13 years, and we do recommend parental guidance for children aged up to 15 years.
The main messages from this movie are:
- Be careful whom you trust.
- Do not act rashly.
- There are many different types of love.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include generosity, forgiveness, patience and trust.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- being generous
- allowing others to use or take advantage of you
- believing the worst of people with little, or nothing, to base your judgment on
- putting women down.