Friday, May 4, 2012

The Wings of the Dove

At first glance, Iain Softley's The Wings of the Dove looks like the typical, snooty British period piece. (Then again, most of them do. Sorry, Andrew. It's the truth.) In reality, it's a somewhat hypnotic tale of greed and betrayal.

The greed is in full swing in Kate Croy (Helena Bonham Carter). Brought up in a life of luxury, she finds it hard to leave it behind so she can be with her lover Merton Densher (Linus Roache). Yet at the same time, she never shows she even enjoys the wealthy life she leads.

The betrayal comes into play halfway through once Kate establishes ties with Millie Theale (Alison Elliott), a dying American heiress. Kate comes up with the scheme of Merton winning Millie's heart in order for Millie to hand over her fortune to him when she dies. Nothing at all could go wrong with it...except maybe a tiny detail.

I couldn't help but notice a few parallels between this and Dangerous Liaisons. Kate is just as vain and arrogant as the Marquise de Merteuil. Though not as heartless, Merton is willing like Vicomte de Valmont to appease the woman he desires. That leaves Millie to be sadly unaware of her lover's true intentions like Madame de Tourvel.

The Wings of the Dove is good, but the pacing was a bother for me. The work from Carter, Roache and Elliott is very good, all three expressing the bad, neutral and good sides of human nature. This is basically for the period piece fans. (Looking at you, Andrew.)

My Rating: ****

1 comment:

  1. I don't know, though, I don't Kate vain or arrogant. SPOILERS

    Millie was dying was she not? What did it matter if the love was *true* or not? I know James based the character of Millie on his sister, and the title does refer to her character but I find Kate's plight so much more sympathetic and sad. (Poor ting that Roache and Elliot haven't had as much luck post-Wings wit roles.)


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