Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Wings of the Dove

Movie Name: The Wings of the Dove
Year of Release: 1997
Director: Ian Softley
Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alison Elliot, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Gambon, Elizabeth McGovern, Alex Jennings, Ben Miles
Genre: Drama, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
After directing "Backbeat" and "Hackers", director Ian Softley tackled an Henry James' adaptation, "The Wings of the Dove", adapted into a screenplay by Hossein Amini (who went on to write Nicolas Winding Refn "Drive"). The film takes place in London, early 20th century and follows the story of Kate Croy, a beautiful young woman who due to the fact that her parents have no money, ends up living with her wealthy and domineering aunt, who wants to see her married to an established and rich man. Kate is already involved and enamored with Merton Densher, a journalist of few means. One day Kate is introduced to a an American woman traveling across Europe, by the name of Milly. Milly is a very wealthy heiress and is also terminally ill. Kate devises a plan for Merton to get involved with Milly, so she will leave him money when she passes away, enabling them both to marry. However the plans don't go exactly as planned, once this triangle gets to Venice and affections start shifting.
"The Wings of the Dove" is a film that draws inspiration from the work of celebrated director James Ivory (who directed the Henry James' adaptations "The Bostonians" and "The Europeans"). The film manages to convey the need to marry successfully and how that impacted the life of people in society. That is perfectly conveyed as the film progresses and Kate is presented almost as a prisoner of these labored and tacit conventions, that prevent her from following the love she has found. What is finely captured in the film are the nuances of Kate's character, as she creates a fiendish plot in order to gain the money she and Merton need to wed. It's a testament to Helena Bonham Carter's talent, that she makes the character lovable even with her insecurities and devious scheme. The supporting characters, though not as well rounded as Kate, provide an interesting backdrop to a film that showcases the nature of how love can present itself in different circumstances. The cast is uniformly good, with Linus Roache, Alison Elliot, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon all providing good support for a stellar central performance from Helena Bonham Carter. The cinematography from Eduardo Serra is stunning, as are the costumes from celebrated and awarded costume designer Sandy Powell. A good film worth watching and revisiting.