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The Governess (1998)

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

Director:

Sandra Goldbacher
3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Minnie Driver ... Rosina da Silva
Tom Wilkinson ... Mr. Charles Cavendish
Florence Hoath Florence Hoath ... Clementina Cavendish
Jonathan Rhys Meyers ... Henry Cavendish
Harriet Walter ... Mrs. Cavendish
Arlene Cockburn Arlene Cockburn ... Lily Milk, the Maid
Emma Bird Emma Bird ... Rebecca
Adam Levy ... Benjamin
Countess Koulinskyi Countess Koulinskyi ... Aunt Sofka (as The Countess Koulinskyi)
Bruce Myers Bruce Myers ... Rosina's Father
Diana Brooks Diana Brooks ... Rosina's Mother
Raymond Brody Raymond Brody ... Litnoff
Olga Olga ... Leonora
Cyril Shaps ... Doctor
Kendal Cramer 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

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 July 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Governanta See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$57,799, 2 August 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,900,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Mr. Cavendish takes the first photo of Miss Blackchurch, the camera is pointing toward the floor and not where Mr. Cavendish is looking. 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

Ständchen
Composed By Franz Schubert
Transcription By Ilan Eshkeri
Performed by The London Metropolitan Orchestra
© 1998 Sony Music Entertainment
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Well photographed period piece with interesting music
14 March 2002 | by khatcher-2See all my reviews

The story is not up to great things, oft told one way or another and smacking of Jane Austen romantic drama aspirations: a beautiful jewess of sephardi descent in 1830s London decides to take the job of governess to a little girl in a great big mansion supposedly on the Island of Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland (though I did glimpse a bit of Glencoe, Scottish mainland, and indeed what was definitely the beautiful Cuillins on Skye) where she falls in love with the master of the household, father of the little girl, and then the son falls in love with her. Well, that alone might have you wandering over to the next projection sala or just twiddling with the remote control, if it were not for certain other factors which may well be called redeeming, so good they are.

Minnie Driver certainly looks the beautiful jewess, but her interpretation goes a bit awry at times, or even careers off the rails; her performance has ups and downs of feelings and passions which do not really make much sense. Better directing might well have produced better results from Ms. Driver, as well as the fact that the focussing of the story is very much a feministic appreciation, rather slanted perhaps, forgiveably so I am not so sure, rather as if Ms. Goldbacher herself was brought up on the aforementioned Jane Austen, as well as Daphné du Maurier, a touch of the Brontës, and she finally spiced it all up with some misgivings from D.H. Lawrence. The result is a confusion of desire and sex being mistaken for romantic love. But don't we all, anyway?

The excellent photography and scenification makes up quite a lot for many of these pitfalls; the costumes and the settings of the interior of the house of such lucky landed-gentry is superb, as well as the scenes in London in the opening and closing parts of the film. This visual experience is greatly enhanced by the musical setting. Ed Shearmur has done an excellent job of creating his own `sephardi' music, helped by offerings from the Israeli singer, Ofra Haza. The music contributed greatly to the setting of scenes, ably supplying tone and atmosphere. Such that I feel one could enjoy this film solely for the photography, costumes and sets, and the music, and you could quite happily skip most of the story. It is not that the story is so bad, just that it is not anything special to write home to mother about, although she might well be the first to disagree.

The Sephardi songs made me remember an old recording I have of some very beautiful melodies sung by Soledad Bravo on a CBS record maybe 20 years ago and which might be found on a Sony CD. The intepretation of these songs, sung in `ladino' (sometimes called judezmo) which is an archaic form of today's Spanish, is pretty authentic. Ladino is still used today by descendents of people thrown out of Spain during the `Inquisición', and now living in parts of Turkey (specifically I found it being spoken in Izmir), Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro and the Croatia coast. Within Israel of course, this language is pretty frequent.


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