The Governess

on July 31, 1998 by Cathy Thompson-Georges
   Strongly reminiscent of "Angels and Insects" in its claustrophobic Victorian world of governesses, science and strange passions, "The Governess" is a sumptuous yet curiously uninvolving film. Minnie Driver plays Rosina, a young and wealthy Jewish woman forced by tragedy to hide her background and take a teaching job in the Cavendish household on the bleak Northern coast. There she becomes involved in the photographic studies of her charge's father (Tom Wilkinson)--and eventually his bed.
   Writer/director Sandra Goldbacher has brought a strong sense of style and a feminist touch to her story. The film abounds in lovely visuals, from the velvet luxury of the Jewish enclave where Rosina begins her story, to the magical image of dozens of photographs of a seagull wing caught by wind and carried down a rocky beach. But Driver isn't believable in her role, although Wilkinson and Harriet Walker, as the neurasthenic Lady Cavendish, are riveting. Further, it strains belief that Rosina, who must hide her identity behind the prim facade of governess Mary Blackchurch, would dive so willingly into the dangerous territory of sex with her married employer. "The Governess" is an intriguing curiosity more than a compelling drama. Starring Minnie Driver, Harriet Walter and Tom Wilkinson. Directed by Sandra Goldbacher. Written by Sandra Goldbacher. Produced by Sarah Curtis. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Rated R for sexuality and nudity. Running time: 93 min
Tags: Minnie Driver, Harriet Walter, Tom Wilkinson, Sandra Goldbacher, Sarah Curtis, Sony Pictures Classics, drama, style, Jewish, passion

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