Version: 2012; starring Matthew Rhys, Eileen Atkins
Genre: suspense; period drama; 1950’s; mystery; romance
Plot Summary: When John Standing meets Johnny Spence, he couldn’t be more surprised. He’s never met him before, or even heard of him for that matter, but the two could be identical twins. What seems to be a fun evening out on the town turns into one too many drinks and a terrible hangover in the morning, along with subsequent chaos and confusion. Mistaken for Johnny, John goes along with his new role as rich estate owner and family man trying to save a dying family business.
My Review: *Disclaimer –I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book. I had no idea what this movie was about, but it looked interesting, so I checked it out. Early on I knew this was my kind of movie! It reminded me of a dime novel. Later I found out it was based on a book by Daphne du Maurier. But I’ve also read that the movie has been changed drastically from the book, so I’m interested in reading the original.
It had all the elements I love in a good movie… drama, intrigue, mystery, and costumes. The story is well paced and keeps you puzzled + entertained. I felt I could really get into the characters’ heads and know what they were thinking without them saying it. That makes for some good acting!
Unfortunately, there were some parts here and there that I felt disappointed about. It doesn’t take John long to learn his lookalike Johnny has been living a double life. He has been sleeping around with his sister in law, while keeping several mistresses. At first John keeps up a good moral stance in avoiding these situations, but eventually falls into the same temptations as his lookalike. He also begins to fall in love with Johnny’s wife, and one thing leads to another… I believe another character in the story is implied to be lesbian, but the insinuation is subtle. As far as the ending goes, it kind of had me chuckling a little out of the irony of it all, but at the same time it caused me to lose respect for the main character.
I did enjoy watching this period drama (set around the time of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952), and it was fun entertainment for an evening. But it’s not a family movie, and some may want to keep the fast forward button near. There is another, older version of this story made in 1959 starring Alec Guinness and Bette Davis, but I have not viewed that one.