Awhile back I made a mental note that I do indeed love Colin Firth (this love originally inspired by that wet, white puffy shirt in Pride & Prejudice) and should therefore support him by watching all of his movies. I had a little mini-frenzy with my Netflix queue, and now every once in awhile a Colin Firth movie will show up at my door.
I was very curious about this particular movie. I've not read the Henry James novel, but I do know that is pretty popular when the bloggers are reading scary stories for the RIP Challenge around Halloween. And you know me, I love scary stories.
So for the three of you out there that don't know the premise, here it is. A young governess (Jodhi May) is hired by a wealthy smooth operator (Colin Firth) to take care of his orphaned niece and nephew on his country estate. He travels often, and does not want to be bothered with any issues that may arise - the governess is in charge.
Soon after the governess arrives at the estate, she learns that her predecessor and another male employee recently died under suspicious circumstances and begins to see their menacing ghosts appearing in various parts of the estate grounds.
At the same time, the nephew, who was away at a boarding school, is expelled for an undisclosed misdeed and comes to stay at the estate with his younger sister. The governess begins to believe that the children are under the spells of the ghosts and may be transforming into evil minions.
This adaptation (and there have been many) was made for British television and was shown in the US as part of Masterpiece Theater. I've not seen any other adaptations, but was not all that impressed with this one, with the exception of the dudely Mr. Firth, who was only in the movie for 5 or 10 minutes.
I will say that I thought Jodhi May played a very convincing governess gripped by fear. It was also refreshing that she had some frailties...she wasn't classically beautiful, and she had moments where she was totally spastic and completely the opposite of what you would expect from a proper woman of this time period. The children were also adorable and precocious and three dimensional. You could truly imagine them angelic or demonic.
That aside, the movie dragged on, and any spookiness attempted fell flat. My husband fell asleep. I'm not seeing any evidence online that any of the other adaptations are any better, however. But unless you need a quick Firth fix, I'd opt out of this one.