Firelight Review

A governess agrees to bear a child for a secretive businessman, in return for the payment of all her father's debts. The child is taken away as soon as she is born - but several years later the governess accepts a new job on a remote estate, and finds herself face to face with the daughter she lost.

by Jessica Mellor |
Published on
Release Date:

21 Aug 1998

Running Time:

113 minutes



Original Title:


Hot on the critical success of Welcome To Sarajevo, Stephen Dillane appears as a lonely aristocrat in this bodice-busting period drama, alongside the capable and sickeningly beautiful Sophie Marceau. Unfortunately the ensuing romance is a tad too lukewarm to truly test either's talents.

It's 1837 London and Swiss governess Elisabeth Laurier (Marceau) attends a bizarre interview for employment by a secretive aristocrat (Dillane). She gets the job and travels to a hotel in Normandy where she engages in three nights of hanky-panky with said employer, with procreation very much in mind. A few sparks fly between them but they both suppress their feelings because the contract states that he has bought the use of her womb and not her heart. When the child is born and is taken away from Elisabeth, she is paid promptly and told to keep her mouth shut.

Flash forward seven years, Elisabeth arrives at a dreary estate where she is to govern notoriously naughty Louisa (Belcourt), who, none too surprisingly, happens to be her long-lost daughter. Suffice to say the master of the house (yup, Dillane) is at first none too pleased to learn that Louisa's surrogate mother has returned to be near her child and he is forced to question his feelings for the capable teacher.

Initially the pleasantly predictable plot takes an intriguing journey but sadly terminates in cliché central. There are some fantastic visuals but the moody lighting gradually becomes overbearing and none of the characters are given nearly enough depth; Belcourt could have been used much more and Dillane is almost one-dimensional in places.

Not exactly bad, Firelight is an interesting idea which merely simmers with passion and which outstays its welcome long before the closing credits.
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