You get the sense from watching this film that first-time directorSandra Goldbacher wanted to say something significant about the conflicts between Jews and Gentiles but also wanted to suck up to the conceited culture weenies over at Merchant-Ivory in hopes that she might get paid to direct costume dramas for the rest of her life. If the depth of historical analysis in "The Governess" is any indication, Goldbacher should be awash in corsets and other ill-fitting clothing very soon.
The film wastes no time in its vain attempt to scrub the lime buildup off the shower stall of deep religious meaning. But minutes into the story, Rosina's (Minnie Driver) father croaks and for some reason she feels she now has to get a job. She exits London for a governess gig in Scotland where she works for Mrs. Cavendish (Harriet Walter), teaching Mrs. C's daughter, Clementina (Florence Hoath), lots of useful trades, such as how to make Lego-like structures out of old crucifix parts. Naturally, she tells nobody she's Jewish, and even though she looks like Shaquille O'Neal trying to hide amongst albino pygmies, nobody seems to suspect a thing.
The only conflict and social commentary evidenced in the film comes when Rosina meets Mr. Cavendish (Tom Wilkinson) and they start humping after discovering a mutual interest in photographic chemicals. Thus, we can only assume Goldbacher's "theme" to be: Jews are better than Gentiles because they'll sleep with the Gentiles, and Gentiles are bad because they will only sleep with Jews so long as they think they're Gentiles. Undoubtedly, she plagiarized this astounding contribution from one of the books of the Old Testament.
When Goldbacher realizes she doesn't have the guts to put her ass on the line in defense of Jewish superiority, she drowns her woes in photographic chemicals (Mr. Cavendish has a camera, but it's Goldbacher who figures out how to get the images to stay on the photographic paper). This unexpected swing in cinematic theme was likely the result of a little investment capital from Kodak or Fuji, since the movie takes a turn that's the equivalent of an intellectual lobotomy: One second Rosina is contemplating Jews' place in the world, and the next she's more hell-bent on "capturing the moment" than a busload of Japanese tourists.
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