The Wings of the Dove

Director:Iain Softley
Writer:Hossein Amini
Director of Photography:Eduardo Serra
Editor:Tariq Anwar
Music:Ed Shearmur
Production Designer:John Beard
Producers:Stephen Evans and David Parfitt
Miramax; R; 101 minutes
Cast:Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alison Elliott, Charlotte Rampling, Elizabeth McGovern, Michael Gambon and Alex Jennings
Based on the novel by Henry James

The Wings of the Dove
Dewey Nicks/Miramax

Now that E.M. Forster and Jane Austen novels have been pretty much tapped out, Henry James is emerging as the novelist of the moment, with his The Portrait of the Lady, Washington Square and now The Wings of the Dove making their way to the big screen. Wings is, without a doubt, one of the best screen adaptations in memory. Brisk pacing, soulful performances and delicious cinematography (save for the painfully fake rainstorms) make for triumphant filmmaking that seems immediate, not dated. Born into privilege but now dependent on her wealthy, scheming aunt Maude (Rampling), Kate Croy (Bonham Carter) is hopelessly in love with a poor journalist, Merton Densher. Maude forbids marriage because she insists Kate marry a rich man. Kate becomes best friends with “the world's wealthiest orphan,” American Millie Theale (Elliott), who Kate learns is dying despite her vitality and love of life. When Millie meets Merton at a party and falls for him, Kate sees an opportunity: If Merton and Millie marry, the dying woman will enjoy her last days, and Merton will soon become a very rich widower. The plan is not as simple as it seems. Kate and Merton are genuinely moral people who loathe the plan, no matter how tempting, and Millie is too intelligent to be played the fool.