This 1997 movie based on the Henry James novel from 1902, would confuse money-obsessed Americans today. Young Helena Bonham Carter plays Kate Croy, an emotionally intense impoverished woman whose wealthy Aunt Maud (Charlotte Rampling) keeps trying to marry her off. Kate is in love with a journalist, Morton Densher (Linus Roache). who is equally impoverished. Densher wants to marry Kate but she knows their marriage would never survive without money.
Kate meets an attractive American millionaire heiress Millie Theale (Alison Elliott). Millie has a secret that Kate decides is the answer to her and Densher’s happiness. Kate, Millie, and Densher travel to Venice and a romantic triangle fueled by money blossoms.
I would expect most young Americans today would find the conclusion of the movie and the novel to be inexplicable. Morality and ethics regarding money morphed over the past century. Honor sounds good, but money pays the bills. The title refers to the 55th Psalm, which records the deceit and guile of conspirators and exclaims, “Oh that I had wings like a dove!”
Wings of the Dove, with a strong cast–especially Helena Bonham Carter–provides a cautionary tale that would fall on deaf ears today. Still, this film moved me. GRADE: B+