Firelight | Chicago Reader


Believing it's the only way he can produce an heir, an aristocrat (Stephen Dillane) pays to impregnate Elisabeth (Sophie Marceau). Asked why a woman who's attractive enough to marry would even consider such an arrangement, she explains that marriage entails permanent subjugation while the terms of this contract will be fulfilled in nine months. Years later, miserable without the daughter she's never met, Elisabeth anonymously secures a position as her governess, much to the father's dismay. This contrived tale of repression in 1830s England spells out its social and romantic ironies so patronizingly that the detailed sex scenes are just about the only hint that children aren't the target audience. In one composition in this occasionally unintentionally humorous drama, Marceau—on her knees, an actor standing aloofly beside her—gives an impassioned monologue about forbidden love, her face sharing the tight frame with her companion's fly. Written and directed by William Nicholson (1998).


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