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on 21 June 2017
Ordered for my mother who was very pleased.
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on 2 August 2009
This is one of the best films I have ever seen. Outstanding performances by Sophie Marceau and Stephen Dillane. Marceau is a superb actress, and here she really shines. The film has subtle yet simple and intelligent plot line(s), I discovered new finesses also at the fifth viewing. There is one medical implausibility, but I am willing to accept that in view of it's contribution to the unfolding of the story. I would have preferred a less abrupt ending (and would have loved to listen to Elisabeth and Louisa in the lake house), but that may only be a sign that I would like to have more of the kind of emotional experience that this film gave me. Since it is a period piece set in the 19th century, it will endure and not grow old for a long time.
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on 19 July 2015
I do not write many reviews these days, mainly because the films that are showing on TV are not worth the bother to write about.

However, out of the blue a film was shown on one of SA's television channels that i recorded as it appeared worth viewing and i am glad i did as
it was a little gem, apart from the generally good reviews on Amazon. If you are a romantic or a little bit sentimental, you might have a lump in
your throat in parts of the film.

I will not go in to the story as this has been well documented, in fact, a lot of people spend more time on the story than actually reviewing the merits of the film. This film was made in 1997, i had never heard about it and knew nothing about the director or the actor/actresses involved and can only belief that it was not a box office success, which often happens to little gems of filming. Well Mr Worthington, making his directorial debut, can be very proud of a beautifully crafted film. I looked him up and in 2014 he was awarded an OBE and is a well known author, screenplay director
etc. Much to my regret, he does not seem to have directed another film since. All the cast give fine performances, even in my opinion the obnoxious young daughter who some reviewers said was one directional. However, the kudos must ultimately go to Sophie Marceau, who is not only beautiful but has a tremendous screen presence. I am really surprised that no major awards were won by this actress or the film itself.

So, we have dealt with the people but what about the musical score and cinematography. They were outstanding, apart from the lovely scenery, the winter was captured immaculately. So many films show snow, when in the background there is blue sky. This film was either shot in actual weather
conditions or a master craftsmen made you think so. But the 'creme de la creme' was the musical score by Mr. Gunning, It complimented the story to perfection and was quite beautiful, it is long time since i have had the pleasure of listening to such a wonderful musical score. So many films use music incorrectly that add absolutely nothing to the film and often detract from it. Not this one, this film would be worth watching for the musical score itself.

To all involved, my congratulations and to all quality film lovers, don't miss it!!!!!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 December 2002
This is a well acted, quirky period piece with an unusual story line. Here, an English gentleman (Stephen Dillane) is looking for a weekend of fairly anonymous sex in hopes of fathering a child, as his invalid wife is not up to the task. An impoverished Swiss miss (Sophie Marceau) is desperate for money due to her family's circumstances. She passes muster during the initial interview with the English gentleman and is hired for the job of potential surrogate mother. Their nights of anonymous sex turn out to be a surprise for both of them, yet they part with the understanding that they will never again meet. Their union having proved fruitful, she ultimately gives birth to a child, their daughter, who is taken from her immediately after birth and given to the father, as contracted. For seven long years they are seperated. They are then all brought together, causing upheaval and tumultuous changes in all their lives.
This is a well acted drama with fine performances by the entire cast. The only wrong note is struck by the child who plays the seven year old daughter. She is simply odious and obnoxious, making the viewer itch to slap her. There is nothing that the child does that makes the viewer feel the child's desire for a mother. The other performers, however, more than make up for this one dimensional child actress. Moreover, the cinematography is quite beautiful, with stunning shots of a fairytale lakehouse. All in all, this is a film that those who love period pieces will enjoy.
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on 1 August 2001
This movie has a lovely feel to it and the lead actors are both mesmerising. The story is rather unlikely, but nevertheless I was spellbound by the film. The child actress is also brilliant, none of that trembling lip acting which spoils a film. I can truly recommend this film as one of the best I have seen for a while!
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on 27 March 2015
In the firelight glow Sophie Marceau is radiant. Outside the wind, snow, wintry cold; inside the fire, warmth, cosy bed. In it, this bed, a stranger lies with her. He is thankful to be in her arms. But he is there because he has paid to be, even though she is not a prostitute. What he wants is a child, an heir to his lands and estate. He is English, she is Swiss. He is 32, she only 20.

They met in England in 1838. They chatted briefly then, though he was behind a screen, shielding his face from her. It was an interview and she passed it. He selected her. There were others he examined but he liked her best — her beauty, manner, modesty, voice, but especially her good health. He is a gentleman farmer. He has a great flock of sheep. He knows about breeding. He looked her over carefully, then he made his choice.

Although in this bed she is beautiful, passionate, even affectionate, he steels himself against these things. He shuts his mind to her person, name and history. He doesn't want to know. They are complications to his smooth transaction.

The bed is in a room in a hotel on the Normandy coast. He comes to her there three nights in succession. The hotel staff and guests do not know this. No one must know it.

Days later they return to England, crossing the channel on a ship. In the cold wind they stand on the deck together but they do not speak, everything already said. At the pier they part, going their separate ways.

Months later, nine to be exact, she lies in another bed, this one in a maternity ward for unwed mothers in a hospital somewhere in London. She lies there and thinks of the baby she will never know, the child she cannot see grow. She also thinks of her elderly father, poor and unhealthy, and how the large sum given to her by the Englishman will help him back in Geneva.

The baby is born. She is healthy, normal, taken from her immediately. She weeps in pain because of the birth, but mostly for her loss, for the daughter she cannot see and know.

She suffers. She keeps a book dedicated to the child. In it she paints watercolours of flowers and writes tender words of love and longing: "I don't forget you. I never forget you." The birthdays of the girl come and go, eight or nine of them, but her mother remembers and celebrates them, recording her sentiments in the book.

It isn't clear if her father has died or not, but by about 1847 she is back in England. A position of a governess has been advertised by the man. He needs a woman of strong character and patience to deal with the spoiled, willful child. She is hard to teach. She gets her way and hates to study. Several governesses have come and gone. The sister-in-law of the man has hired Miss Laurier (Sophie). She meets the man again and sees her child. The man is furious. He gives her a month's notice to find a new position. During this grace period she's allowed to stay but on one cardinal condition: the child cannot know who she is. She agrees and abides by it.

Everything else important in the story happens during this month.

The firelight symbolizes truth. In it, in its warmth, time stops, roles cease, veils and pretenses are dropped. All things can be said in the firelight, but when the fire goes out they must be forgotten, "as though they never happened".

The motifs in the film are strong and consistent. Outside is perpetual winter, one season only. It is cold, grey, dark and bleak. Inside, where the fires glow, there is warmth, light and life. Fire also signals passion, an emotion that changes the dynamic of the story.

Therefore we know where this must go.

Although the film from the man's point of view concerns lineage, property, ownership and legacy, its main view is feminine. What matters in this view is maternal love — its strengths, including its power to endure.

Hardly well known, this film is a classic that deserves to be treasured. Also, to my mind, Sophie has never looked more beautiful than here. Thus a film for romantic men too, for those who understand how and why a woman should be cherished.
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on 7 June 2014
This is one of the most touching films I have in my collection.
A upper class man wants a child, but his wife is very sick and can't give him one.
He makes a deal with a poor young woman (Sophie Marceau)that need money to solve some problems in her family.
She`s going to give him a baby, and then leave the castle with a lot of money, and with the promise to never return.
The time she and the man spend together while getting her pregnant, slowly ends up in deeper feelings, but the mans
sick wife is still alive, helpless in bed, and the deal included that the young girl (Marceau) should leave and
never return as soon as the baby was born.
But the surrogate mother is not able to forget the baby, and is still drawn to the man that now is the father of
her child. She see only one solution to be able to be near them, and that is to get job as a servant in the house.
This is already well described in other reviews, so all I can do is to recommend this with all my heart.
You will probably not be able to hold back some tears now and then, but so what...
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on 20 August 2005
This is one of the best films I have ever seen, and sadly enough, one of the least well known. It's funny, moving and well shot, the acting is superbe and the story is just plain brilliant. It's a shame that there doesn't seem to be a DVD...
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on 6 January 2013
Although this film is really not well known atall, it truly deserves to be.... Beautifully shot and very evocotive of the period. The casting is superb, with perhaps the exception of the little girl. She does try, but she really isn't right for this particular role, sorry. However this detail is unlikely to spoil the overall enjoyment of the film. It is a good story and is scripted very well, Joss Akland makes the most of his fairly limited time on camera and does a great job as the unsympathetic father bent on his own entertainment and with scant regard for his sons personality. If you enjoy a period film with a healthy dose of romance then you are unlikely to be disappointed here.
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on 6 August 2012
The film itself is one of my many favourite love stories ("50 First Dates" is another). A nice little tale about how a woman in desperate need of money to save her father from economical trouble, ends up carrying this man's child for a--at the time--large sum of money. It also has a very good cast. Sophie Marceau, perhaps being the most widely known to an international audience, is always a good choice for a film; Joss Ackland, who often get to play nasty characters and no exception in this film. The older Lord Clare, living in London, giving fashionable parties and not giving a hoot about what anybody thinks of him. Stephen Dillane makes a fair job of portraying the son, who seems to be less of a favourite in his father's eyes. Him talking about his son as "the boy's not normal." Ah, joyous family life!

The package the film came in, however, makes me believe it was converted from a VHS tape, or from a made for TV recording of some sort. Even the blooming cover looks and feels digitally printed, most likely on-demand. The low-key scenes are grainy, blurry, and unpleasant to watch, and the seller has conveniently forgot to openly mention that it is a 4:3 release (at least I couldn't see it mentioned anywhere on the site), which means you don't get the full picture. This you discover upon arrival of the case. You get a silly frame made for old time, thick TV sets. The original is 2.35:1, which is a real eye-opener compared to this "narrowy" screen. It is so much better in original format. They could at least have made it in 16:9. The small screen cuts away so much of what is going on that it will probably cloud your judgement of what the film is about. And not to forget, they have cut it down from the original 1:43 to 1:38:50. What was so hideous that it couldn't be shown on a purchased DVD? Shame!

Save your money and buy something else, or rent it cheaply at the library or something. Or wait for a real release of the film. This release is pure and utter nonsense. Even the main menu is spelled wrong: "MAIN MEMU" it says in all caps, and the film's name? Well I thought it was "Firelight" but they spelled it "FireLight". Sort of sums the quality up, don't you think?
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