filmhead2.jpg (3975 bytes)

The Governess/B,A-

Columbia/1998/105m/ANA 1.85, PS 1.33

     Part gothic romance, part feminist vision, The Governess is a splendidly visual film. Young Jewish woman Rosina da Silva, loses her father and faces the alternative of marriage to an unappealing older fish merchant or finding a way to help support the family. Set in England during the mid-nineteenth century, she chooses to make her way as a governess. Using the name Mary Blackchurch to conceal her Jewish heritage, she takes up her position with the Cavendish family on a remote Scottish island.
governess.jpg (14534 bytes)

Reminescent of the ImpressionistsİColumbia

      Rosina/Mary takes on her duties with the energy of purpose, quickly preventing the tutor-student relationship from oppressing her. At night, in the privacy of her room, she practices a hybrid Judaism. During the day, between guiding her charge Clementina through books, communing with nature leads to a fateful exchange with the master of the house on the beach. When young Henry Cavendish arrives home after being expelled from Oxford even greater complications arise.
     The key to The Governess is mood. The bucolic ambiance created with the camera’s outdoor compositions is reminiscent of Impressionist paintings. The passion aroused in the Charles’ photography laboratory develops much like the images on the photosensitive paper, beginning with a faded idea and burning through the soul to reality. The intellectual atmosphere and her desire for knowledge stimulate Rosina’s hungers. Mary’s intelligence and youth arouse Charles who is frustrated by the limited intelligence of his spouse. Thrown together in Charles’ laboratory, they have a chemical reaction that takes them into an out of control affair.
    Debut director/writer Sandra Goldbacher imbues The Governess with a passion equal to that of her main characters. While the tone may falter slightly and strain in the flashbacks of Rosina’s childhood, Goldbacher succeeds in making The Governess a memorable initial film. Eloquently photographed by Ashley Rowe, The Governess is shot with an overlay of strong brown hues that relate beautifully to the photographic elements of the film. Minnie Driver and Tom Wilkinson play the lovers ignited by the spark of knowledge with great intensity. Still, there are melodramatic elements that creep in to the smoldering exchanges.
     Faithfully capturing the elegant look of The Governess, this Columbia DVD release is given a fine anamorphic widescreen treatment. Color is stable and intentionally muted. Varied lighting conditions pose a video challenge that the DVD takes on confidently. Detail is sharp without sacrificing mood. The music sweeps appropriately on the Dolby Digital 2 channel surround. The package mistakenly identifies the aspect ratio as 2.35.