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In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven years later she is hired as governess to a girl on a remote Sussex estate. The father of the girl, Charles Godwin, turns out to be that anonymous landowner. So Elisabeth has to be her own daughter's governess, and she can't reveal the secret of her tie with little Louisa. Written by
[At night in the schoolroom]
Louisa tells me you have a story about firelight.
Yes. I tell her Firelight is a magic time, when times stands still.
Why'd you tell her that?
I find it helps. A time with no rules at the end of the day.
[She walks over to the fire and kneels to pick up two cards Louisa left on the floor earlier]
I must ask you to help me.
There was a time - there was a short time, when we were close you and I.
Do you remember it?
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Just by chance, I selected this film at a time of night when I'm ready for sleep. I watched it once.... then, again but fell asleep thru part of it. Two days later, I watched it again (wide awake this time) and that's when I fell in love with it. The first time.... I admit, it was the titillating story... the child was secondary. The second time.... I wanted to watch Sophie Marceau's delivery of her character. The third time.... I realized that Stephen Dillane's delivery of his character was so nuanced, I missed it the first 2 times. He is what makes this story so wonderful.
Because I am a big fan of British film, I wondered why I was not familiar with Stephen Dillane's name. After some research, I found that I have seen him in some character roles, but nowhere is he as handsome as in this film. Sophie Marceau is so accomplished that together, some of their scenes unfold as a dance.
This film is so delicate, with exquisite timing and phrases, that I can truly say it is as well-done as Campion's The Piano. Elisabeth's shout when she opens the doors to the lake. Godwin's face from recognition to omigod to sweet smile when he sees Elisabeth again. Godwin's explanation that a month with Elisabeth in the house would be an eternity. Their dance at the door when Louisa is screaming to be let out. And many more.
If you love stories of heart-felt deep love, this is it. Just be sure to watch it closely and more than once.
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