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Turn of the Screw Reviews

Reviewed By: Craig Butler

If this PBS version of The Turn of the Screw is not quite as expert at creating tension and a sense of the supernatural as the better-known The Innocents, it is nevertheless both a respectable and a respectful adaptation of the Henry James classic. Indeed, this Turn is one of the better of the many adaptations of the book at keeping things murky in terms of whether the ghosts are "real" or simply the result of an overactive imagination. Director Ben Bolt and screenwriter Nick Dear deserve a great deal of credit for this accomplishment, but they must share it with Jodhi May, who plays the governess whose sanity may be in question. May's performance plumbs the psychological depths of the character, creating someone whose inner contradictions, especially in terms of her repressed sensuality, make quite believable the possibility that the spirits in Turn are all in her head. This does come with a cost, however; May is so overtly sensitive that one wonders why the Master has chosen her for this position, and equally wonders why the staff treat her with so much deference. Still, it's a small trade-off for the wonderful effects her performance brings to the film. Equally commendable is Pam Ferris, who seems to be Mrs. Grose personified, and Colin Firth, whose tiny part is nevertheless impeccably played. The child actors are fine, if not outstanding. All in all, this Turn is well worth watching.