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Film / The Wings of the Dove

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The Wings of the Dove is a 1997 British-American romantic drama film adaptation of the novel by Henry James. It was directed by Iain Softley and stars Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alison Elliott, Charlotte Rampling, and Michael Gambon.

Financially deficient British aristocrat Kate Croy (Bonham-Carter) and her poor journalist lover, Merton Densher (Roache), become friends with a rich American woman, Milly Theale (Elliott), who suffers from an incurable disease. Complications pertaining to love and money ensue.


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This film features examples of:

  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The movie takes place during the reserved and repressed early years of the twentieth century and because the film's content matches its setting for most of the running time, it would likely merit no worse than a PG-13 or even PG rating. This abruptly changes near the end when the movie very much earns its R-rating.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Much to her shock, the previously honest Kate turns out to be surprisingly effective at being one.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Kate, in the beginning, is an honest, proper and well-mannered young woman. However, fear of impoverishment leads to her becoming more deceptive and manipulative as the film goes on.
  • False Friend: Kate becomes more of this to Milly as the former's need to avoid poverty by receiving a share of the latter's estate grows in importance.
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  • Gold Digger: Kate's friendship with Milly gradually falls by the wayside as she schemes with Merton to secure at least a portion of Milly's estate.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Despite being an aristocrat, Kate is penniless and her domineering Aunt Maud (Rampling) is intending to marry her to a rich man in order to save her from the fate which befell her recently deceased mother when she married Kate's own dissolute father (Gambon).
  • Victorian Novel Disease: Milly has the classical illness that somehow makes you look more radiant.

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