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The Governess
The Governess
Actors: Minnie Driver, Tom Wilkinson, Harriet Walter, Florence Hoath, Bruce Myers
Director: Sandra Goldbacher
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     1999     1hr 55min

A woman hired as a governess is taught the pioneering art of photography by the man she works for while she teaches him about passion. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: R Release Date: 16-FEB-1999 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Minnie Driver, Tom Wilkinson, Harriet Walter, Florence Hoath, Bruce Myers
Director: Sandra Goldbacher
Creators: Ashley Rowe, Sandra Goldbacher, Isabelle Lorente, Cathy Lord, Sally Hibbin, Sarah Curtis
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/16/1999
Original Release Date: 07/31/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 07/31/1998
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 55min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: French

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Member Movie Reviews

Sharon F. (Shar) from HIALEAH, FL
Reviewed on 6/1/2021...
I'm a fan of period-based movies and this one was set in the late 1800s. Minnie Driver was superb as a Jewish girl who pretends not to be so she can get a job as the governess for a wealthy family. Great plot development, funny and heartwarming.
George K. from COLCHESTER, CT
Reviewed on 7/28/2013...
Minnie Driver and Tom Wilkinson are just marvelous in this movie. Not an action film but filled with emotion and character. Most worth seeing.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Elizabeth B. (bethieof96) from NINETY SIX, SC
Reviewed on 6/17/2013...
A pretty good movie. Minnie Driver plays an awesome part. She is so easy to play different roles. Really a good actress
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sandra W. from HAGERSTOWN, MD
Reviewed on 12/21/2009...
Minnie Driver gives a very good performance in this dark story of a young Jewish woman who goes to be a governess for a Gentile family far from her home and her own family. I enjoyed her character's development and the relationship between her and that of actor Tom Wilkinson. The relationships in the family that takes her on as governess are strained, to say the least, with a husband who has a dream and a disinterested and hostile wife. I liked this movie very much.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Beautifully shot, the story of a pre-Victorian feminist
Larry Mark | nyc | 04/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Set in 1840, England, between the times of King George and Queen Victoria, this is the story of a Jewish woman, Rosina Da Silva (Minnie Driver), who after the death of her beloved father, is asked to marry quickly and marry "well" so that the debt-ridden family can maintain its standards of living. Rosina is headstrong, and rejects a marriage proposal from an older, boring man. She would rather be an actress. She takes a job as a nanny for the Cavendish family on the uninviting, desolate, Isle of Skye. She changes her name to Mary BlackChurch to mask her Jewish identity, and is accepted as one of the family. Like Queen Esther of the Purim holiday, she masks her identity and takes up residence in a palace-like household. And then Mr. Cavendish (Tom Wilkinson), an inventor who is focusing his scientific work on photography, takes an interest in Mary/Rosina, as does the Cavendish's teenage son, Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Beautifully shot, like the photos Cavendish is trying to develop and stabilize. A tad cliché with the pre-Victorian romantic lines. Contains nudity. First 10 minutes contain shots of "recreated" London (actually Venetian style) synagogue and "Sephardic" Jewish life. By the way, the writer / director Goldbach is the progeny of an Italian-Jewish father and Scottish mother. Contains music by the late Israeli singer, Ofra Haza, and Edward Shearmur."
Better the second time around... a family in need of Freud
Karusichan | Lansing, MI. USA. | 09/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I am a period movie fan. I first saw this film when it was new in the rental stores. At the time I thought it was interesting, but it did not rate as high as other films I was into. Recently I decided to watch it again while I was fiending for a movie with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in it and I must say it was worth a second viewing.

Minnie Driver plays Rosina, a young Jewish woman who must find employment to help support her family after the murder of her father. She gets hired at a home in Scotland by cold woman with two children and a husband who spends the bulk of his time pursuing new innovations in the Photographic field. Quickly she is swept up in the morose nature of this family, but she finds joy in the studio with the lord of the manor and an unexpected love affair as well.

The casting of this movie was well done. Driver's performance as the ingenue suits her well and she captivates as the driving force behind the plot. Tom Wilkinson, who plays her love interest Charles Cavendish, is also well matched as the isolated naturalist who cannot bring himself to face the timultuous emotions the young Rosina inspires in him. As for the reason I chose to rewatch the film, Meyers is as engaging as always as the young college man who fixates his desire on Rosina nearly from the moment he meets her. The cinematography is also stunning, the gray and black tones of color set the mood of the film and the location is a fitting backdrop for this brooding story, whether or not it is actually Scotland I am not sure, but it comes off well none the less. And the scenes where Cavendish is shooting pictures of Rosina are simply wonderful.

My only real complaint about the film was that it lacked a bit of subtance when it came to the family. I would have liked to have more explanation about why the family was so dysfunctional. The mother spends all of her time obsessing about London society, though she has never been there before. Charles Cavendish obsesses over his work and not much else, although he manages his to air bigotry and male chauvinism often enough. The daughter, Clementina, only cares about drawing attention to herself and does so by showing off her dead animals and telling her disturbing dreams to anyone who might listen, and Henry Cavendish spends most of his time chasing after Rosina and engaging in generally creepy behavior because he was drawn to her differences and because he liked to shock his family, as demonstrated by his expulsion from school due to being found in an opium den. What draws a family to act like this? I don't know, because it was never hashed out anywhere in the film, and I like to think that Scotland is probably not as dreary as this film portrays it, certainly not dreary enough to lead people to behave like this.

Overall, not a bad film though. I enjoyed it so much more the second time through. Definitely worthwhile for any fan of period dramas, Minnie Driver, or Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (who shines in every scene he is in.) If you like dark melodrama or gothic films this is a must see."
Ahh...romance in Scotland....with Jonathan
Valerie Miller | Thousand Oaks, California United States | 07/08/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"My interest in The Governess was piqued when I heard that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (as Henry Cavendish) appears in a decidedly supporting - but delicious role. Having seen some of his previous films (Velvet Goldmine and Ride with the Devil) I was very pleased to see that this film was a departure for him as he is usually cast as a theatrically effeminate villian-type. Here, he plays the young love-lorn son of the vindictive lord of the Manor played by Tom Wilkinson. He hopelessly pines for Rosina (Minnie Driver) and is crushed at the end when his affections are denied. I was glad to see his normally over-the-top acting style was gracefully curtailed yet intense at the same time. It's long and tedious at times (as most British films tend to crawl by for American audiences), but at the end, it seems like you have just had the satisfaction of reading a poignant bestselling novel. The movie itself has the complex and metaphoric plot of a good novel, but keeps to a central character without dallying in unrelated side-plots. I like this movie for grey, rainy afternoons on the couch with a friend who is a novelist. Or not. Forget that, watch it whenver you like. It's good anytime. Watch it for culture and perspective."