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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Jewess On a Schtick

The Governess on IMDb

Plot Overview

This is a fish-out-of-water story about a young woman of one culture forced by circumstance to adapt with pretense to another, hostile one. As expected their customs differ. Author Iain Pears has pointed out that:

candlesgospel choirWhat will drive a man into madness in one place, will not affect another elsewhere. In Friesland, a woman will kiss the man who brings her drink; in Italy the man must die for it. In England young men and maids will dance together, a thing which only Siena abides in Italy. Mendoza, a Spanish legate in England, found it disgusting for men and women to sit together in church, but was told such an occurrence was only disgusting in Spain, where men cannot rid them­selves of lascivious thoughts even in holy places. (567–8.)

star of DavidLondon circa 1840. The camera slowly pans a Jewish liturgy showing the men in pews intent on worship while women & children in the gallery giggle and gossip. Separation by sex was and is de rigueur in Jewish services, and it carried over to Christianity as when Paul enjoined the women to tone it down, (1Cor. 14:34-35) “Let your women keep silence in the churches.” Women shouting questions across the aisle at their husbands about the sermon necessitated Paul adding the admonition: “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home.” The Pilgrims in America had called this practice “dignifying the service.” It remained common in Protestant churches until the end of the nine­teenth century. In the movie “Lawless” we were shown why the sexes are separated when Jack comes in and can't keep his eyes off his love interest. In the contest for attention between an invisible God and a visible dame, guess who is likely to win? “Lawless” (2012) was based on a true story from 1931 depicted in the novel, The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant. Fact is I've attended Orthodox Christian services here in the 21st century where the sexes voluntarily separate themselves.

Jewish damsel Rosina (Minnie Driver) repaired from the service to a feast preparation. There her father Simi da Silva (Bruce Myers) escorted her onto the dance floor in hopes she'd find a man to take her off his hands. The Israeli circle dances were segregated by sex, Rosi at the center of the women's and her love interest Benjamin (Adam Levy) the men's, from which they coyly eyed each other. That night she confided to her sister Rebecca (Emma Bird) her aspirations for the stage. She also told her she'd kissed Benjamin. At her sister's protest to kissing before being wed, she replied, “Actresses care not for such conventions.

drawingWhen her father was suddenly and unexpectedly taken from this world, he'd most inconveniently left them destitute saddled with his debts. Rather than be fobbed off on a man with­out love, inventive Rosi made her­self out to be a Christian gentle­woman named Mary Black­church advertising her services as a governess. She obtained a position on the remote Isle of Skye, in the Hebrides of Scotland, a place so isolated they'd hardly have the time or means to check her qualifications, nor would there be much competition.

photographerEarly upon arriving she's seen in a Christian service in a small chapel where the sexes are mixed. She later poses as Salome a veiled dancer for the (married) lord of the manor Mr. Charles Cavendish (Tom Wilkinson) who is experi­menting with a camera obscura (“I call it a box camera.”) And she does a brief polka on the beach with his son Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who's down from Oxford, while they are taking her charge Clementina (Florence Hoath) on her botany walk. When Rosi persuades Charles to do a portrait of her posing as Queen Esther, she leaves an ankle exposed, and his lascivious nature leads them by and by into “sinful madness.”


darkroombeakersharlotRosi's situation presented her with options along the lines of, (Prov. 30:7-9) “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” A get-rich-quick scheme based on “vanity and lies” can make one so well off that he'd forget his religious heritage or leave one in such desperate straits he'd steal swearing an oath that he hadn't. Rosi proved her­self an able assistant to George in his quest to find an elusive fixation process for his primitive photos. She had visions of grandeur, of seeing her name on the Cavendish–Black­church process, settled with her paramour on Princess Street in Paris. But, oh how tenuous was her position as a Jew, a woman, and a home breaker. It could so easily go wrong and leave her a fallen woman on the streets. Much safer to have a regular, steady income and leave science to the scientists.

Production Values

” (1998) was written and directed by Sandra Goldbacher. It stars Minnie Driver, Tom Wilkinson and Florence Hoath. A very fine a performance was had by Driver playing the dominant character. She had a wide range. Dressed in black in a castlelike dwelling she put one in mind of Morticia Addams as she threatened her pig­tailed charge with “inventive torture.” She oughta be in pictures. The other actors were superb in their roles as well.

MPAA rated it R for sexuality and nudity. There was great cinematography by Ashley Rowe. Gentle music was by Ed Shearmur. The editing was classy.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

quiltingbookstandThis was a rich drama that moved at a sedate pace. The lady of the manor Mrs. Cavendish (Harriet Walter) provided a woman's perspective on the importance of the arts vis à vis her husband's all consuming science. The externals of Judaism and Christianity were forth­rightly displayed. The characters' ages were strung out nicely, relating to each other in situ. And wet Scotland was contrasted with rainy London. It's a good movie to while away the time with.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations were from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Pears, Iain. An Instance of the Fingerpost. New York: Riverhead Books, 1998. Print.