The Governess

Director: Sandra Goldbacher

Jane Eyre meets Virginia Woolf in Sandra Goldbacher’s gorgeously photographed film about an intelligent Jewish girl named Rosina who, after the sudden murder of her father, leaves London for Scotland. Upon arrival, she poses as a Protestant named Mary Blackchurch in order to work as a governess so that she may support her mother and sister. Once settled, Rosina becomes increasingly attracted to the father of the house-- an intellectual man whose experimentations with photography intrigue Rosina and soon the two are working side-by-side and their relationship deepens into an affair, initiated by the head-strong, confident young woman seduced it seems by the older man’s intellect which matches her own. The film is a sudsy, sexy piece of period cinema but our heroine definitely seems too much a product of 1990’s feminist thinking to be believable in the 1840’s setting although it’s intriguing to watch. Goldbacher’s film tries hard and its initial plot and locale are fascinating enough that I wish more would’ve been done with them. In fact, I even read that the director’s mother was born in the film’s setting and she herself is the daughter of a man of Italian-Jewish descent. Again, the history could’ve been better utilized than simply in the tawdry love story and sexual awakening of Rosina but audiences looking for a modern retelling of Jane Eyre should take note.