Set in England between the Georgian and Victorian eras, The Governess takes its title from a young Jewish woman who, after the death of her father, is offered the job of nanny for the gentile Cavendish family on the Isle of Skye off the coast of London. When Rosina Da Silva (Minnie Driver) changes her name to Mary Blackchurch to take the job, she is quickly taken in by the family as one of their own. But things become complicated as Mary discovers the experiments Mr. Cavendish (Tom Wilkinson) is conducting behind the locked doors of his laboratory. Cavendish is close to discovering how to develop photographic images, and as he and Mary start working together on the project, their romantic attraction becomes irresistibly passionate.
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