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Remaking Rebecca and Mrs. Van Hopper Stunt Casting
Everyone’s very excited and upset about the prospect of another Rebecca movie; I, who have been behindhand on coming up with my own Armie Hammer opinion for at least three years now haven’t made up my mind whether or not I’m going to object to it (Lily James seems lovely, I wish her well, I find myself skeptical at the prospect of watching her try to commit the act of diffidence but I certainly hope to be surprised).
The real trick, of course, as @queenofbithynia pointed out, as getting Mrs. Van Hopper right. Lovely Mrs. Van Hopper! Splendid, monstrous, ravioli-counting Mrs. Van Hopper, who at least knows how to enjoy anonymous hotels rather than moping in front of a pile of bougainvillea and wishing one were rain-soaked in Cornwall in them, and hiding articles about wood pigeons from one’s middle-aged husband because they remind him too much of his house that burned down. I admittedly haven’t read much Gothic fiction – does Rebecca count as Gothic, exactly? – but I never get tired of reading about miserable, paranoid people whose unhappiness seems mostly rooted in their frustration over not having been able to fuck a particular house. I’m sorry, I don’t know a politer way to put it. But that’s what’s so wonderful and upsetting about the opening and ending of Rebecca, is the image of this hidebound and bored May-December English couple, pushing their tongue sandwiches away uneaten, both seething with wordless resentment about not getting to have sex with a big house.
That’s where QoB gets it wrong, by the way (and this is the only time you’ll catch me calling QoB wrong about anything, so mark your calendars, darlings):
There are at least nine love affairs in the book, including the one between Mrs. Danvers and the house, the one between Maxim and the house, the one between ol’whatshername and the house, the one between Mrs. Van Hopper and hotels, and the one between Favell and the side doors of the house. Ol’ Whatshername comes off the worst at first glance, because she starts the book unhappily reading out loud to someone in a hotel and ends it the same way, only now she’s married to her audience and the hotel is slightly worse, but at least she’s no longer afraid to give her order to waiters, and that’s saying something. Maybe Armie Hammer needs to play the house.