Review by Walter Frith
2 stars out of 4
A number of people who read my reviews have recently contacted me and
asked why I changed my rating system in my recent reviews of 'Firestorm'
and 'The Boxer' from five stars to four. They mentioned to me that they
preferred the five star system and suggested that I return to it. I
guess if something isn't broken, it shouldn't be fixed, as the old
saying goes, so, I will return to the five star rating system I am
humbly known for. An now, on with the review.....
A division of society's classes has always offered the opportunity for
great film making.
'The Wings of the Dove' is based on the novel by Henry James and is
adapted for the screen by Hossein Amini and is set in the Victorian era,
1910 to be exact, and tells a very subtle story of poverty's desperation
striving for notoriety and a better way of living. The book is actually
set closer to the turn of the century but is moved forward a few years
to 1910, perhaps as an attempt to show the more slowly eroding
traditions of the 19th century in terms of honour and tradition to the
very different social trends the 20th century would bring.
Two British lovers, Kate and Merton (Helena Bonham Carter and Linus
Roache) star in this rather cold yet meaningful study of morality and
conscience. Kate's mother is deceased and her father is a hopeless
alcoholic living in the excesses of poverty. Through the course of
their relationship in the film, they meet a young American girl named
Millie (Alison Elliott) whom they discover is dying from a disease that
is undisclosed to the audience. They find that she is quite wealthy.
She meets Merton and later asks Kate what kind of man he is since she is
aware they know each other but never counting on the plot that is
devised against her by the two of them. Kate and Merton plot for him to
marry Millie, suspecting and almost certainly counting on the fact that
she will leave her money to him upon her death and Kate and Merton can
finally be together enjoying a better way of life. As the film moves
on, all the characters eventually know more or less what is happening.
The picture is nurtured and given a very gentle tone courtesy of
director Iain Softley who allocates a great amount of detail to the
overall quality and outcome of the film. Helena Bonham Carter has won
virtually every major critic's award for this film and she has a good
shot at the Academy Award.
The Victorian era is paid tribute to in a very flattering manner as
everything from the costumes to the set design and the moody photography
is given great attention.
'The Wings of the Dove' runs a surprisingly short 108 minutes but
because it is such a laid back film with ongoing dialogue that is never
boring and is the type of story that is always interesting to watch, it
may have done its service as a short but satisfying offering to the
medium of film..
Copyright © 1997 Walter Frith