Queen of the costume drama Helena Bonham Carter finally got a chance to loosen her corset a bit with this exquisitely mounted (Sandy Powell's costumes were nominated for an Academy Award) romantic drama based on Henry James's classic novel. Set in turn-of-the-century London and Venice, Wings of the Dove is a stately departure--more PBS than MTV--for Iain Softley, director of Hackers and the birth-of-the-Beatles biopic Backbeat. But there's enough romantic intrigue to perhaps fuel a week's worth of daytime TV talk shows: My Lover Seduced a Dying Heiress for Her Money.... Bonham Carter, who won several critics association honours for her performance (she was nominated for a Golden Globe and Oscar as well) stars as Kate, who is engaged in a secret affair with Merton (Linus Roache), a journalist whose poor financial standing makes marriage impossible. Kate's manipulative aunt (Charlotte Rampling) threatens to disown her unless she marries the more suitable Lord Mark (Alex Jennings). Opportunity--admittedly sordid--arrives in the form of Millie (Alison Elliott), an American heiress whom Kate befriends. When Kate learns that Millie is dying, she suggests to Merton that he seduce her to make her last days happy, and ensuring that Millie will leave Merton her money when she dies. Merton reluctantly agrees, just as Kate begins to have second thoughts that threaten to sabotage the scheme. One of the most rapturously reviewed films in recent years, Wings of the Dove is a must-own video for the Merchant-Ivory crowd. But guys: don't dismiss this as a "chick flick". Beneath its Masterpiece Theatre exterior beats the wild and untamed heart of Dawson's Creek. --Donald Liebenson [show more]
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