The Turn of the Screw (1999)

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Director: Ben Bolt

Writer: Henry James (short story), Nick Dear (screenplay)

Cast: Jodhi May, Colin Firth, Caroline Pegg, Pam Ferris, Grace Robinson, Jason Salkey

Synopsis: Henry James's classic ghost story of psychological suspense provides the basis for this Masterpiece Theatre presentation. Jodhi May, with her warm and open demeanor, is perfectly cast as "Miss," the generically named governess at a grand British estate. Her charges are two seemingly angelic little orphans. Miss can't believe her good fortune at landing such a delightful job. "Am I dreaming?" she asks kindly, corpulent housekeeper Mrs. Grose (Pam Ferris).

But dream turns to nightmare as the house's spectral inhabitants reveal themselves to her. Miss becomes obsessed with protecting her precious "little creatures" from the vile phantasms. The movie is satisfyingly spooky and makes us jump in all the right places. The children, Flora (Grace Robinson) and Miles (Joe Sowerbutts), are genuinely creepy. "When I'm bad, Miss, I really am extremely bad," asserts little Miles, and we believe him. This provocative adaptation of The Turn of the Screw breathes new life into James's morbid Victorian obsession with sexuality and morality.


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