My Cousin Rachel

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Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 15 (themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for My Cousin Rachel
  • a review of My Cousin Rachel completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 June 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to themes.
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes.
Children aged 16 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: My Cousin Rachel
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, violence, occasional course language
Length: 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Phillip Ashley (Sam Claflin) is raised by his older cousin Ambrose (also played by Sam Claflin) after the death of his parents. While Phillip is a child Ambrose doesn’t show any interest in taking a wife and brings him up in a world surrounded by men and dogs. When Ambrose becomes unwell and is ordered to recover in a warmer climate (Italy) Phillip 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. He believes that his new bride is poisoning him and begs Phillip to come and help. By the time Phillip arrives in Italy Ambrose is dead and his bride has disappeared. Phillip vows revenge upon the woman he blames for his cousin's death but when he finally has a chance to meet her he has trouble fulfilling his plans as he also begins to fall in love with her. Others warn him about her but he does not listen and soon he begins to experience headaches and hallucinations the same as Ambrose did. Eventually he seeks the assistance of Louise in trying to determine exactly what type of woman his cousin Rachel is and due to tragic circumstances he is never truly able to answer that question.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

There are a number of themes in this movie including death, chronic illness and domestic violence.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Rachel is very distressed when she recounts how Ambrose used to choke her.
  • Phillip begs Rachel to kiss him, puts his hands around her throat and then begins to choke her as well.
  • Phillip 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 as she claims she fears for her life and cannot be alone with Phillip.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Phillip screams at Rachel in a jealous rage. There are other occasions when Rachel and Phillip have heated arguments. The angry shouting may scare some young viewers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • 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.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Apart from the above mentioned scenes there is nothing in the film that would scare children over the age of eight.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Apart from the above mentioned scenes there is nothing in the film that would scare children over the age of thirteen.

Product placement

There is no product placement in this film.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie including:

  • As Phillip arrives in Italy he hears firsthand accounts of his Cousin Rachel including how she is described as a “passionate woman”. The man who says this does so with a smirk on his face and asks Phillip if he understands.
  • Rachel has a dear friend who is rumoured to “prefer men.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie including:

  • Rachel bursts into Phillips room as he is washing. His torso is bare.
  • Phillip goes swimming naked. His nude backside is seen clearly as he approaches the water.
  • Phillip goes to Rachel’s room one night and says that there is something he is missing but that he won’t ask for it. Rachel kisses him and leads him to her bed. As he lies beside her, bare legs and thighs are shown. Afterwards Phillip is seen standing naked at the window. He looks at Rachel who is sleeping wrapped in a sheet.
  • Phillip takes Rachel on a picnic in the woods and as he convinces her to have a seat on the ground he lies on top of her and whispers that this was what he wanted for his birthday. The scene cuts out and resumes with them adjusting their clothes and dressing.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie including:

  • Rachel gives Phillip permission to smoke in her sitting room.
  • Ambrose is shown encouraging a young Phillip to drink with the men even though he is only a child.
  • There are repeated scenes of drinking throughout the movie, normally with meals or at a Christmas party.
  • Phillip tells Nick that he and Louise are welcome to come to the house for his birthday to drink to his health.
  • Rachel is forever brewing a variety of Tisanes; it remains unclear as to what exactly is in them and whether or not she is poisoning people. Occasionally viewers are given the impression that they may have hallucinogenic properties.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie including:

  • There are three occasions where “damn” is used and “shit” is said twice.
  • The term “like a girl” was used as an insult and there were other derogatory comments made against females such as: “The only women ever allowed inside were the dogs.”

In a nutshell

My Cousin Rachel is a mysterious drama that keeps you guessing. It demonstrates that things are not always as they may seem. Due to lack of interest and themes such as death, chronic illness and domestic violence this film is not recommended for children under the age of 13, and parental guidance is recommended for children up to 15 years of age.

The main messages from this movie are to be careful whom you trust, do not act rashly and that there are many different types of love.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Generosity, forgiveness, patience and trust.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Being generous to a fault
  • Allowing others to use or take advantage of you
  • Believing the worst of people with little, or nothing, to base it upon
  • Belittling women