Firelight (1997)

Firelight (1997), written and directed by William Nicholson.

I can't review this without giving away much of the plot.

The first fifteen minutes are deceptive: a secretive Englishman contracts and pays well for three nights of sex with a poor young woman. This is the gorgeous Sophie Marceau, luminous in her Gallic beauty, intelligence and scarcely controlled passion.

She has no pleasure the first night. The second she cries, and by the last night her passion fully emerges and she is in love. Then they part and we realize the truth: this wasn't about sex -- well, not just sex -- but about making a baby. (Making love and making babies: try as we might, are they ever entirely separated in the subconscious?)

Seven years later she has hunted him down and appears at his country house as the new governess for his wild, fey daughter. Who is hers, too. For him, this means quiet hell breaks loose.

We come to see that it's much like Jane Eyre, hotted up quite a bit. In the original story the mad wife burns down the house and dies in the fire. This time -- well, in stories fierce passion means fierce guilt and tragedy. Happy ending, though.

Sophie Marceau contributes some passion scenes and boobage, for which many thanks.

Stephen Dillane is always very fine. The little girl only made three films, all costume works in that same year. One of the others was Jane Eyre.

Sets and costumes are believably realistic without being lavish. Pleasant score.

This is the director's only film and he does a respectable job. He's written other screenplays.

My wife likes this one, which makes me reflect on elements of the successful romance movie:

The North American DVD is cropped to 1.33, a terrible abuse of a scope ratio film. This is the one Netflix has. My thumbnails are from a PAL DVD import.

For those less wedded to discs than me, I see Amazon has this for streaming in high definition.

http://watershade.net/public/firelight.jpg