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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Governess

Starring: Minnie Driver, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Hilary Duff
Rated: R
RunTime: 114 Minutes
Release Date: July 1998
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Florence Hoath, Jonathan Rhys Myers, Harriet Walter, Arlene Cockburn

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

In her fictionalized tale of Britain's first female photographer, writer/director Sandra Goldbacher fashions a romantic drama set in Victorian England. Minnie Driver plays the daughter of a once-wealthy Jewishmerchant who leaves her sheltered Sephardic community in London when herfather is murdered and the family suffers a financial crisis. Suffering the stigma of anti-Semitism, she poses as a Protestant in order to get a position as a governess on the bleak, remote Scottish island of Skye. Thefamily that hires her is bizarre: an obsessed scientist-father (Tom Wilkinson), an invalid mother (Harriet Walter), a rebellious teenage son, anda spoiled daughter, best described as "a rodent in petticoats." Curiousabout his work, she offers to help with the photographic process on which the father is working, becoming his laboratory assistant and, eventually, not only his muse but his partner. Together, they explore the estheticdimensions of the then-emerging art of photography as she discovers a fixative to prevent his camera images from fading. Eventually, of course, the volatility of their intimate, illicit relationship explodes in a betrayal. That and the attendant dialogue are inevitable and predictable. After an auspicious debut in "Circle of Friends" and an Oscar-nominated supporting role in "Good Will Hunting," Minnie Driver delivers a standout, Oscar-caliber performance as the seductive, spirited heroine, caught betweentwo cultures, a position emphasized by Sandra Goldbacher's sensitive vision and Ashley Rowe's stylish cinematography. On the Granger Movie Gaugeof 1 to 10, "The Governess" is an exquisite, erotic 7, a sexy, sensuous feast for the eye.

Copyright 1998 Susan Granger

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