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The Governess (1998)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  31 July 1998 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 2,351 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 57 user | 34 critic | 25 from Metacritic.com

When the father of privileged Rosina da Silva violently dies, she decides to pass herself off as a gentile and finds employment with a family in faraway Scotland. Soon she and the family ... See full summary »

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Title: The Governess (1998)

The Governess (1998) on IMDb 6.2/10

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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Florence Hoath ...
Clementina Cavendish
...
Henry Cavendish
...
Mrs. Cavendish
Arlene Cockburn ...
Lily Milk, the Maid
Emma Bird ...
Rebecca
...
Benjamin
Countess Koulinskyi ...
Aunt Sofka (as The Countess Koulinskyi)
Bruce Myers ...
Rosina's Father
Diana Brooks ...
Rosina's Mother
Raymond Brody ...
Litnoff
Olga ...
Leonora
Cyril Shaps ...
Doctor
Kendal Cramer ...
Young Rosina
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Storyline

When the father of privileged Rosina da Silva violently dies, she decides to pass herself off as a gentile and finds employment with a family in faraway Scotland. Soon she and the family father, Charles, start a passionate secret affair. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 July 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A nevelőnő  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$57,799 (USA) (31 July 1998)

Gross:

$3,719,492 (USA) (8 January 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The date of copyright given at the end of the film is MCMXVII (1917) and not MCMXCVII (1997). See more »

Quotes

Henry Cavendish: I stink. I shall bathe in scent for you.
Mary Blackchurch: Don't do it for me. Do it for yourself.
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User Reviews

 
But we can be any self we want, can't we?
22 April 2005 | by (Bookseller of the Blue Ridge) – See all my reviews

The Governess was, by far, a very pitiful film. I do not use this word loosely, as it honestly was a poor excuse for a movie. I finished watching this feature with only one word on my mind … "why"? Honestly, you could use this question at the end of every scene of this film and it would seem like it fit. There were so many inconsistencies that lead to a lack of development (both in the story and in the characters) which ultimately lead to a very confusing film with actors walking through the motions instead of giving any explanation. Scenes would occur with no foreshadowing, understanding, or drive to a complete ending. It was as if I was watching several different ideas thrown together without really any resolution. Actors were setting events in motion that did not seem to fit their character or really were resolved. This was my biggest issue with this film. The complete and utter lack of structure to this film brought all specks of foundation crumbling down with a genuine "ripple-effect" being felt throughout the rest of the film as a result.

Let me explain myself further on this lack of consistency throughout the film. I would liken this film to a bowl of lumpy oatmeal that had a zebra in it. It made no sense nor was there any logic behind it all. Minnie Driver was the worst culprit of this deed. Her character's lines were drawn very fuzzy and nearly transparent. She would do things like talk about sex all the time with her sister, but yet she seemed very open to sexual experiences all the time. She has her first moment of passion in this film, and there is no pain or excitement. It nonchalantly happens, and this just didn't seem to fit the original conversation that we had at the beginning of the film with Rosina and her sister. She is a very intelligent woman that accidentally finds a solution to Wilkinson's problem and suddenly wants full rights to his invention? That was confusing and completely random. Is it not obvious to anyone else that her teaching methods were non-existent. Anyone in their right mind could see that she wasn't teaching Cavendish's daughter anything. The sudden and awkward relationship that randomly forms between Driver and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers nearly had me laughing out loud. I thought maybe I had discovered some magic in this film as Rhys-Meyers literally "poofed" into the scene and suddenly caused some unneeded drama. It felt that the director (or writer) was thinking that the original story was going nowhere fast, so by adding this random character we may be able to advance the plot a bit (or confuse the lesser film enthusiasts). Well, it didn't fool me, I saw that he was nearly a "cut-and-paste" character used to strengthen an already weakened story. Don't get me started on the ending, which had no consistency to the rest of the story. Again using the "cut-and-paste" method, the writer of this film needed a way to just end the story, and this was the only solution they could arrive to. It is sad when actors are forced to do things out of character … but I guess that is the name of the game in Hollywood. Fix until completely broken, or at least salvageable.

The remainder of the story was unexciting dribble. There were maybe a handful of neat cinematography moments where you could see that there was one sliver of creativity trying to peak through coupled with some bars of decent, period piece music, but nothing to write to Grandma about. More family structure with some stronger introductions could have strengthened this film a bit more, but as I stated before, by leaving open-ended scenes just lying around the entire film, you will experience a crack in your foundation. What may seem like a sturdy story, will eventually wear down over time, and by the end of this film I felt that the house was crumbling down on top of me. Wilkinson plays his normal self in this film, while Driver apparently did not want to get naked, but everyone else had too (I will have to see a doctor after those images were burned into my eyes … eeewwww). Also, she wore the same dress everyday. That was disgusting and I could smell her through the television. Sex and dirty laundry. Now there is a great film for you! There just seemed to be some potential floating around here, but instead it was just rubbish. Nothing was answered, questions seemed to fall like snow in Alaska, and mediocrity seemed to reign supreme.

Overall, this could have been a decent film that combined the powerful themes of science and love together, but instead it was just pitiful. I cannot stress enough the disturbing fact that characters were going through motions without any sort of pre-explanation. I don't need cinematic moments handed to me like a child, but something should have been done to build a foundation. Just remember the oatmeal with a zebra analogy that I used. If you were as confused about that as I was, then you will completely understand the film The Governess, while if you prefer zebras in your oatmeal … then, maybe this film is for you!

Grade: * out of *****


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