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In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father’s debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven years later she is hired as governess to a girl on a remote Sussex estate. The father of the girl, Charles Godwin, turns out to be that anonymous landowner. So Elisabeth has to be her own daughter’s governess, and she can’t reveal the secret of her tie with little Louisa.

STARS: Sophie Marceau, Stephen Dillane, Dominique Belcourt

103 min | Drama, Romance | 1997 | Color


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The power of desire presented by oustanding acting
I have to admit that I watched this the first time because of my admiration for the performances of Sophie Marceau. I watched it several times more because of the interesting portrayal of the power of desire presented by oustanding acting and a rich "period piece" production. Should your friends belittle the story as formulaic and the ending as too easy, ignore them. They have missed the richness of the flow of events in this movie that portrays a more repressed world where women (and, to a lesser degree, men) had different and more limited options and necessarily pursued their opportunities differently. This movie was so well done, it leaves you wishing it were an hour longer.

A memorable masterpiece.
The title led me to expect "Firelight" would be a "chick flick", yet the inclusion of the beautiful Sophie Marceau made viewing imperative. The astonishing credibility of the actors' performances was aided by an impeccable script coupled with masterful direction. Add to that award-winning cinematography and achingly beautiful music reminiscent of gypsy violins and the result is an extremely moving love story. How this film came to be ignored by the US public is one of the great mysteries of our time.
Every word, every sigh, every gesture and every scene appears uncontrived yet at the same time is testament to breathtaking genius. If only director William Nicholson would bring his ensemble together again for more of the same! Just thinking about "Firelight" brings tears to my eyes. No other movie has had such an effect on me.
File this one under "U" for "Unforgettable" in the illustrated dictionary.

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