Film Friday: My Cousin Rachel

When Philip’s cousin dies after marrying the beautiful and beguiling Rachel, Philip is convinced Rachel had something to do with it. However when he meets her he begins to fall in love with her, despite the warnings of his long time sweetheart, Louise. But Rachel continues to be mysterious and enigmatic, leading him in the way she chooses. And things remain unclear, was she involved with Philip’s death or not, and what is she plotting now?

This is a dark and unsettling story, and ultimately we are left to make up our own mind, consider the evidence and think for ourselves. We are not spoon fed any easy answers here. The plot twists and turns.

The Bible is full of enigmatic stories. Jesus told well over 40 parables yet only ever explained two of them (the Sower and the Weeds, both in Matthew 13). We are invited to chew on them, and think for ourselves. Discuss them and banter about their meaning. What do they mean for us, life and God? One of the most famous (in Luke 15), one we call The Prodigal Son, is full of layers, and does not have a conclusive ending. When the younger wayward brother staggers home, dirty and smelly, spinning a yarn about needing a job, his father makes himself look an idiot by running down the road to embrace his boy. Not only to welcome his lost son, but to protect him from any stones thrown by any angry villagers, who will feel insulted by the boy’s rebellious behaviour. And they are not the only ones – the prodigal’s older brother is incensed. He refuses to join the party. The father pleads with him, but we are left hanging, what will the older brother do? Will he repent himself, change his mind, see that he is also lost and come to the party?

The older brother is as in as much danger as the younger son, more in fact, because he does not realise he is lost and thinks himself too good to come to the father’s party and receive his welcome. Perhaps he might go and pack a bag himself and flee the family farm. Or maybe spend the rest of his days stewing on his own ‘goodness’ and his brother’s mistakes. Will the older boy ever find forgiveness and hope? Or will his days be full of damaging anger and the longing for ‘getting his own back’? I guess the story is open-ended because we must decide, not only how his story continues, but ours too. We have to make up our own minds. And Jesus invites us to make the story of hope, generosity, welcome and reconciliation our own.

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