Picks and Pans Review: The Governess
Minnie Driver, Tom Wilkinson
Like a lustrously polished grand piano that is painfully out of tune, The Governess looks better than it plays. A romantic drama set in Victorian England, the movie features sumptuous garb, sweeping, moody scenery (shot on Scotland's Isle of Arran) and fabulously ornate interiors. That's all to the good. The problems come in Governess's story, that of a young Jewish woman (Driver) who, out of financial necessity, masquerades as a Christian (calling herself Mary Blackchurch) to land a job as a governess at a big house in rural Scotland. The mistress of the mansion (Harriet Walter, most amusing) is an affected chatterbox, and the middle-aged master ("Wilkinson, from The Full Monty) spends all day in his laboratory experimenting with the newly discovered process of photography. Driver and Wilkinson begin collaborating on photo experiments and, soon, pictures aren't all that they are developing.
Although the movie, written and directed by Sandra Goldbacher, starts out looking at questions of identity, once Driver and Wilkinson hit the hay, its focus becomes fuzzy and the plotting ever more gothic. Driver is certainly passionate enough but is often strident. Wilkinson just seems lethargic. (R)
Bottom Line: Too much sex ed in the lesson plan
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