"Firelight" takes place in 19th century England and brings up some of the ugly human aspects of that time period. Definitely portrays the truth about the difficulties of being a woman and the lengths some did in order to keep their family out of debt. "Firelight" is definitely a heart-wrenching, and lovely romance. The cast and crew did a remarkable job re-creating the 19th century with the use of period props, costumes, and affects. Hat's off to the director William Nicholson who wrote the superb script that gives the viewers a window into England's past.
"Firelight" begins in the year 1838 (the year after the Regency period in England ended) with a Swiss governess, Elisabeth Laurier (Sophie Marceau), agreeing to help a British aristocrat obtain an heir in order to pay her father's overwhelming debt and rescue her father from debtors' prison. The aristocrat remains anonymous, spends three nights at an island-resort hotel with Elisabeth, and despite their efforts to remain detached they create a passionate connection that neither one of them forgets and cherishes. Elisabeth becomes pregnant as agreed by the liaison and upon the birth of the baby girl, she receives the money promised. Her daughter is given to the anonymous British aristocrat who has a wife completely paralyzed and in a catatonic state. "Firelight" then tenderly shifts to seven years after the birth of the baby girl (Elizabeth's daughter) portrayed by Elisabeth creating a journal filling it with flower watercolor drawings on each of the baby's birthdays and holidays with tender motherly notes to a child she does not even know the name of or whereabouts. These beautiful notes portray the anguish of a mother separated from her child. True to the life of governesses for this time period, Elisabeth becomes in between positions and Constance (Lia Williams) who is Charles Godwin's (Stephen Dillane) sister-in-law hires Elisabeth to be the governess for Charles Godwin's daughter, Louisa (Dominque Belcourt). Upon her arrival at the manor, Elisabeth receives a very unexpected surprise when she realizes upon the arrival of Charles's return from a business trip that Charles Godwin is the same anonymous British aristocrat who she had the liaison with that helped her pay her father's debts and that the very spoiled bratty Louisa is her daughter. Naturally, Charles Godwin is shocked and completely against Elisabeth being in his home. He is not upset with Constance who did not know about Elisabeth and the "arrangement" regarding Louisa's birth, but with Elisabeth for accepting the position for it places him in a very delicate situation. He gives Elisabeth one month to find another governess position and allows her to teach Louisa in the interim. Elisabeth does her best to get to know and teach her daughter, Louisa, during this time frame, but finds Louisa very difficult and too used to getting her way. Elisabeth uses very loving and stern techniques as Louisa's governess which win Louisa over bit by bit, day by day. As the days pass and the month's deadline grows nearer Charles Godwin finds himself drawn to Elisabeth and more enamored by her. He is relieved when Elisabeth turns down a marriage proposal by John Taylor (Kevin Anderson) from Ohio and secretly begins wooing Elisabeth. Unfortunately, Lord Clare (Joss Ackland), Charles's father, by philandering means, causes severe financial stress for Charles who has taken up sheep farming in order to barely keep up with the debts his father incurs. By the time the month is over, Charles's wife has passed away, and Constance leaves after realizing Charles does not want to marry her. Charles is forced to sell his land, sheep and mansion. He does ask Elisabeth to marry him and live with Louisa even though the three of them have to move to a smaller and less expensive place.
Other primary cast members (in order given by credits) were: Sally Dexter (Molly Holland, Lord Clare's mistress), Maggie McCarthy (Mrs. Jigo, who arranged the liaison that led up to Louisa's birth and payment to Elisabeth), and Anabel Giles (Amy Godwin, the paralyzed and catatonic wife of Charles Godwin).
"Firelight" is 1 hour and 40 minutes in length and its pace is the same as the 19th century, fairly slow. This movie is rated R for its nudity, adult theme and subject matter. Great to see Joss Ackland (he portrayed Sir John Bridges in the film "Lady Jane", and was in "Flawless" as MKA) on the screen once again. Found it a good romance and drama, well worth viewing!