The Erotic Thriller Is Back With The Governesses, And That's Reason To Celebrate

A24's upcoming release roster is already packed with exciting offerings and buzzworthy names, including Alex Garland's "Men" and the slasher horror, "Bodies Bodies Bodies." However, the indie movie studio's latest upcoming project, an erotic thriller titled "The Governesses," is a reason for celebration just by virtue of its genre. The erotic thriller is an often-mishandled genre, and "The Governesses" sounds like it could mark a return of the elements that make an erotic thriller unique (suspense, sizzling chemistry, a hint of mystery and wrongdoing, and so on). 

Per a recent press release, A24 has greenlit "The Governesses," starring a trio of amazing actors, namely Lily-Rose Depp ("Voyagers," "The Idol") HoYeon Jung ("Squid Game"), and Renate Reinsve ("The Worst Person in the World"), who will be playing the titular characters. Joe Talbot ("The Last Black Man in San Francisco") is set to helm the project, and will also be handling a part of the screenplay alongside poet/novelist Olivia Gatwood ("Life of the Party"). 

Erotic thrillers are back in style, baby

As a genre in itself, the erotic thriller had disappeared from mainstream cinema, becoming ghosts of the recent past. Films along the lines of "Fatal Attraction" and "Unfaithful" are rarely made nowadays, featuring storylines that revolve exclusively around brimming eroticism, while things go astray as a result of overwhelming jealousy and passion. Throughout these films — often written off as racy bargain bin fare — there is a palpable anxiety around deeply personal secrets. Adrian Lyne has always been a prominent name in the genre, who made his return with the recently released Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas starrer, "Deep Water," bringing back the genre back in style, to an extent. There's a broken marriage, unstated arrangements that involve extramarital affairs, an unhealthy obsession with snails, and a long line of straight-up envy-fueled murders.

While it is debatable whether a film like "Deep Water" actually works along the lines of its telltale genre elements, it definitely marks the return of sleazy storylines that attempt to dig deeper into the caverns of the human mind, and how certain people act in these sort of dynamics. Another example of an attempt to jumpstart the genre is Luis Prieto's "Shattered," which was marketed as an erotic thriller, but failed to imbue either eroticism or thriller to its overarching storyline. However, the basic beats are present: a deliberately planned out one-night stand meant to earn the trust of a rich man, a femme fatale-like figure engaging in villainous shenanigans, and a perverted landlord who likes watching the events unfold across his house (played by none other than John Malkovich)

Now that A24 has decided to delve into the erotic thriller genre properly, this could officially mark the return of the same on a mainstream level, given the nature of the material and the sheer power of the leading trio. Will we be witnessing a return of film along the vein of "Basic Instinct" and "Bound"? While it is too early to speculate, films like "The Governesses" could very well be a step in that direction.

A little taste of rebellion

A24's erotic thriller is based on Anne Serre's eponymous novel, which has been described as a "semi-deranged erotic fairy tale" about three young women who introduce a hint of chaos in an otherwise reserved society. Set in a large, reclusive country house, the novel posits that the three governesses are busy chasing frenzied thrills as opposed to educating the children they are responsible for, leading a hedonistic lifestyle that was rather looked down upon at the time.

The A24 thriller also follows a similar storyline, and given that Depp, HoYeon, and Reinsve will be working closely together to bring the narrative to life, the upcoming film is most definitely worth looking out for. Here's the official description for "The Governesses:"

"The film follows three rebellious governesses who upend the household they work in –– inspiriting the minds of the boys in their care, igniting the imaginations of the bohemian couple who employ them and abandoning their charges for erotic adventures."

The dutiful and doting governess trope has been a staple for period dramas for the most part, be it in the form of classic narratives like "Jane Eyre" or ones that take a murkier turn, such as in "The Turn of the Screw." The premise of "The Governesses" perfectly complements the A24 streak, wherein an established trope is upended to good measure, leading to much joy (or horror) to be found in the chaos that ensues.

The film will mark Talbot's second collaboration with A24, the first being his critically acclaimed feature, "The Last Black Man in San Francisco." Producers include Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures, along with Rob Richert of Talbot's Longshot Features and Angus Lamont. A24 and BBC Film will be co-financing, while the latter will be handling the global release of the film.

"The Governesses" does not have a release date attached to it at the moment.