A film that tries to cover a broad swath of material, from anti-Semitism to employee exploitation to early experiments in photography, The Governess succeeds remarkably well at offering provocative and thoughtful takes on all of its subjects. Minnie Driver makes Rosina Da Silva a determined woman, who is also believably gullible when her employer, Charles Cavendish, played by the reliable Tom Wilkinson, takes her to bed and then steals her ideas for his work in photography. Rosina is given a liberal education in dysfunctional family dynamics, as she journeys from the warmth of her London home to the less hospitable climes of Scotland, where the Cavendish family seems to exist as four individuals who have as little to do with one another as possible. The Governess is a cut above the standard Daddy-Beds- Nanny story, in part because Rosina's professional exploitation takes on more than one dimension.
by Tom Wiener review