6.3/10
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The Governess (1998)

R | | Drama, Romance | 31 July 1998 (USA)
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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Cast

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

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Release Date:

31 July 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Governanta  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$57,799 (USA) (2 August 1998)

Gross:

$3,900,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Rositas takes a photo of the sleeping Charles, arranging his left leg. The developed photo, looked at by Charles, later given to his wife shows that the right leg in the arranged position See more »

Quotes

Mary Blackchurch: You ask a lot of questions.
Henry Cavendish: Then you ask me one. Anything you like.
Mary Blackchurch: Why are you really back from Oxford?
Henry Cavendish: I was found in an opium den in Spitalfield with a whore.
[both laugh]
Henry Cavendish: You don't believe me and you're not surprised.
Mary Blackchurch: No.
See more »


Soundtracks

Salome
Vocals by Ofra Haza
Ofra Haza performs courtesy of BMG Ariola Germany.
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User Reviews

 
An unintended cautionary tale?
3 October 2003 | by (Redmond, WA) – See all my reviews

THE GOVERNESS is a moody period piece, the meandering story of a Jewish woman who, upon the death of her father, sets out to 1830's Scotland, posing as a Gentile to get work to support her family in London.

Rosina - or Mary, as she calls herself in a none too subtle piece of symbolic writing - is a rudderless child, a socialite with dreams of being an actress. She strikes up an alliance with her employer, and by accident solves a crucial problem in his research with photography. Giddy with success, they begin a halting and uncomfortable affair while the eldest son of her paramour falls hopelessly (and inexplicably) in love with her.

And like a child, she fails to understand the consequences of her actions - in the end, betraying those she deceived in order to make a life for herself.

Many claim this is something of a feminist manifesto, but I disagree. Whether intended or not, this film only resonates with me if I think of it as a cautionary tale. In the end, Rosina's greatest disappointment is the truth - that she lied, happened upon a way to help a man she wanted to be both her father and her lover, and in the end contributed nothing but destruction. As such, the end of the film gives me the impression that nothing she did, no one she used, made her happy - and that is exactly as it should be.

Did I need a movie this long and langorous to teach me this lesson? Not at all. On the contrary, had it not been for excellent cinematography, unique score and my hope that she'd get her come-uppance, I wouldn't have stuck with it to the end of the film.

Fans of Minnie Driver will likely be disappointed by her uneven performance but may wish to see it anyway; I doubt young female fans of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers will be able to stay awake for the payoff they expect, and I can't help thinking this holds too little cultural detail to be of interest, even to photography buffs. The 3 points I award the film are solely for its visual style and score. On the strength of their other work, I assume the actors' performances are so disappointing because of a poor script and worse directing, but they are, in the end, unremarkable.


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