|The Wings of the Dove|
|Directed by||Iain Softley|
|Produced by||Bob Weinstein
|Written by||Hossein Amini (screenplay)
Henry James (novel)
|Starring||Helena Bonham Carter
|Music by||Ed Shearmur|
|Editing by||Tariq Anwar|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Release date(s)||November 7, 1997 (US)
January 2, 1998 (UK)
|Running time||103 minutes|
The Wings of the Dove is a 1997 American/British drama film directed by Iain Softley and starring Helena Bonham Carter. The screenplay by Hossein Amini is based on the 1902 novel of the same name by Henry James. The film was nominated for numerous Academy Awards and BAFTAs, recognizing Bonham Carter's performance, the screenplay, and the cinematography.
Kate Croy lives under the careful watch of her Aunt Maude, who is determined the young girl does not follow in the path of her deceased mother, whose dissolute husband Lionel squandered her wealth in order to support his opium addiction. As a result, there's little likelihood she will be permitted to wed financially struggling muckraking journalist Merton Densher, to whom she secretly is engaged.
Kate is introduced to wealthy American Millie Theale, who is on an extended trip with her companion Susan Stringham, and the two become fast friends. Millie invites Kate to accompany her and Susan to Venice. Prior to their departure, she meets Merton, with whom she is smitten, and she asks him to join them as well.
When Lord Mark reveals Millie is seriously ill and he hopes to marry her in order to inherit her wealth and save his home, Kate decides to adopt his scheme. She encourages Merton to woo Millie, explaining that she expects him to do so in order to achieve her goal of making him wealthy enough to receive her aunt's approval. Kate returns to London to allow Merton and Millie to spend time together and hopefully grow closer. What neither she nor Merton anticipate is the depth his feelings for the ailing woman will reach.
Merton reunites with Kate following Millie's death, and soon learns she bequeathed her estate to him. He opts not to accept it, and Kate decides she will forego her life of luxury to marry him, until she realizes the memory of Millie will remain between them forever.
London exterior locations include Brompton Cemetery on Fulham Road; Carlton House Terrace in St. James's; Freemasons' Hall on Great Queen Street; Kensington Gardens; the National Liberal Club on Whitehall; the Richmond Fellowship; and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire, Syon House in Middlesex, Painshill Park in Surrey, and St. Mark's Square in Venice also were used for outdoor settings. Interiors were filmed at the Shepperton Studios, including mock-ups of a platform tunnel and passageways representing both Dover Street and Knightsbridge tube stations.
The film grossed $13,718,385 in the US .
In his review in the New York Times, Stephen Holden called the film a "spellbinding screen adaptation [that] succeeds where virtually every other film translation of a James novel has stumbled . . . This magnificent film conveys an intimation of what values count the most, of what really matters, but it is also far too intelligent and sympathetic to human frailty to spell them out. You feel them most of all in the characters' unbridgeable silences." 
Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "The Wings of the Dove was a minor literary work that manages on screen to upstage both Washington Square and The Portrait of a Lady, two superior Henry James novels that came across as stiff and deliberate in recent film translations. This is a breakthrough for Softley, whose earlier films Backbeat and Hackers only hinted at the style and complexity he displays here, and a wonderful showcase for Roache, Elliott and Bonham Carter, who gives her best performance yet." 
In Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman graded the film A and observed it "has a lush yet aching beauty that seems to saturate you as you watch it. I'm not just talking about visual beauty. I'm speaking of dramatic beauty, the exquisite moment-to-moment tension of characters who reveal themselves layer by layer, flowing from thought to feeling and back again, until thought and feeling become drama. Director Iain Softley has made one of the rare movies that evokes not just the essence of a great novel but the experience of it . . . The Wings of the Dove is, I think, a great film . . . that confirms the arrival of major screen talents: director Softley, who works with sublime sensitivity to the intricacies of self-deception; Bonham Carter and Roache, who create a dazzlingly intimate chemistry within the propriety of Jamesian manners; and The Spitfire Grill's Alison Elliott, who, with her beatific charm and Mona Lisa smile, does one of the most difficult things an actress can — she brings goodness itself to life." 
David Stratton of Variety stated the film "gives Helena Bonham Carter one of her best opportunities in a while, one which she seizes with relish, looking vibrant and totally convincing in her pivotal role . . . The Wings of the Dove may be typical of the school of British literary cinema, but Softley's handling of several key elements, including an unusually frank love scene in the later stages, is always inventive. Production values are of the highest standard."