Nov 17, 2023
Lucia Goya Betts
NEW TO UK FILM REVIEW
Critics Chris Olson and Brian Penn host UK Film Club - a new film podcast covering all film types. From blockbusters to old favourites and even indie & shorts.
You hear a lot of people talking about a crisis in the film industry. That is something which is, to an extent true, with the recent strikes, plummeting box office numbers and the struggle for refreshing auteurs to emerge and be given the funding to create successful original films. Yet, ‘Lady Governess’ points to another consensus, that the film industry and creativity is alive and well, or at the very least it should be, with potential for a wonderful, exciting future, however, it is consistently undermined by studio heads and execs, who, in the process of prioritising money over creativity, instead stifle their own profits and the industry as a whole.
‘Lady Governess’ points to a brighter future for the very point that it is a fresh film, showing an abundance of creativity made by someone of just sixteen years of age, writer and director Tito Wiley. For someone so young to show both such a keen interest in filmmaking, and such skill in the craft at such an early stage adds to the excitement of ‘Lady Governess’, it’s watching someone with the potential to be an extremely successful auteur finding his feet in the craft with nothing but his passion and talent to work with.
The film itself tells the story of a mysterious young widow, played by Wiley’s sister Lucia Goya Betts, whose miserable, isolated existence is changed when she hires a housekeeper, named Karen, and also played by Lucia Goya Betts, to keep her company. The widow has lived largely in isolation - leaving her house only for the most necessary tasks - for the past seven years, and believes that living with someone else will help bring her back into the world again at last. Unfortunately for her, the housekeeper whom she has hired is mentally psychotic, as should perhaps have been obvious by her speaking with the most outdated idioms. Her incursions into the widow’s life grow as they live together, becoming obsessive and haunting both her every living, and every sleeping moment.
As a director Tito Wiley excels, especially on such a shoestring budget, and being limited to filming inside his home (though admittedly it is a home perfect for filmmaking) and whilst on holiday in Spain. He shows a creativity, and awareness of filmmaking techniques beyond his years, from the classic dutch angle, to the inventivity used to film the number of scenes featuring both characters played his sister. Even if the writing is at times a little stilted and the ideas are never truly cohesive, the freshness of the story should still be applauded, as should the very fact that a sixteen year old has the courage to both write a script and then follow through with it. Other technical aspects, are remarkably well done given the limited budget, and another sign of early filmmaking prowess.
‘Lady Governess’ is a remarkable film, and for more than purely the age of its creator. It’s remarkable in the invention and creativity which it demonstrates on a shoestring budget and for the approach it takes with the story. It’s remarkable for the talent demonstrated by Lucia Goya Betts in her dual role, and for the talent of Tito Wiley in his directing, but moreover, it's remarkable how fresh the story feels, and how impressive that is from a developing auteur.