• 75
    Michael Wilmington Chicago Tribune
    The film, despite some over-obvious stretches, is mostly sad, lovely, moving, haunting. It's a striking and promising debut from a fine new filmmaker. [21 Aug 1998]
  • 75
    Rick Groen The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
    Once again, then, impeccable visual detail and uniformly strong performances combine to create a polished, if slightly airless, result. [14 Aug 1998]
  • 75
    Mike Clark USA Today
    Though not exactly dynamic, the movie offers insights into a specific culture. Ashley Rowe's photography is exquisite, and Driver has never been better. [14 Aug 1998]
  • 75
    Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times
    The claustrophobic, isolated Victorian household is a stage on which every nuance, however small, is noticed.
  • 75
    David Sterritt Christian Science Monitor
    Driver gives a winning performance in a human-scaled story that avoids romantic clichs and gender stereotypes, although a few of both creep in from time to time.
  • 70
    Jonathan Rosenbaum Chicago Reader
    Goldbacher's story is not always convincing as history, but it's absorbing as a sort of gothic romance and sensually quite potent, and Driver carries it all with grace and authority.
  • 67
    Marjorie Baumgarten Austin Chronicle
    The film is an atmospheric work, a period piece set in the 1840s during the dawn of the Age of Photography with a dense and moody visual style that befits its Brönte-esque subject matter.
  • 60
    Empire
    It's worth watching, though, for Minnie Driver, whose luminous performance as the governess in question struggles to save writer/director Goldbacher's film from the doldrums.
  • 50
    Jay Carr Boston Globe
    The sheer intelligence and independence of spirit in Driver's busy eyes almost carry The Governess past its structural limitations. [07 Aug 1998]
  • 20
    Jessica Winter Village Voice
    The Governess is too dirty-minded to fit the Merchant Ivory mold but not salacious enough to qualify as bodice-ripping laff riot. [04 Aug 1998]