An impoverished woman who has been forced to choose between a privileged life with her wealthy aunt and her journalist lover, befriends an American heiress. When she discovers the heiress is attracted to her own lover and is dying, she sees a chance to have both the privileged life she cannot give up and the lover she cannot live without.
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Helena Bonham Carter,
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Kate Croy's mother was born to wealth and privilege, but she threw it all away to marry Kate's father, a penniless opium addict who admits to having stolen from his wife. After her mother's death, Kate is offered an opportunity to return to the life her mother gave up. There is a condition, however: Kate must sever all of her old ties, not only to her father, but also to her lover, the muck-raking journalist Merton Densher, whom she has promised marriage. Kate reluctantly agrees to this, and in the meantime becomes friendly with "the world's richest orphan," Millie Theale, an American making the Grand Tour. Desperate to see Kate, Merton crashes a party that she and Millie are attending, and Millie is attracted to him. When Kate learns that Millie is dying, she comes up with a plan to have her cake and eat it too...but all does not go as planned. Written by
The tile pattern on the Underground stations the train passes through at the beginning of the film are identical in pattern and color for each station. Each station on the Piccadilly line had its own tile pattern and color scheme so that the illiterate could still recognize their station without needing to read the station name. See more »
You want me to seduce a dying girl? And what makes you think she'll just leave me all her money?
I know her. I know how she loves.
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I can't believe there are only two comments for this film. It's a subtle film and a rare one in which your feelings for the characters change. I have read the book, and seen all the other films made of Henry James novels, and this one is by far the best at translating at least some of the moral ambiguity at the heart of most James novels.
Helena plays a woman forced to give up her boyfriend Merton because he has no money. She meets and befriends a wealthy, but terminally ill American, Milly. She decides that Merton will court Milly, inherit all of Milly's money when she dies, and have the funds to marry Helena. The film is about Merton's moral awakening as he realizes how horrible what he's doing is, and WHO Helena's character really is.
You would have to read the novel to understand how difficult it is to adapt this material, and what a great job they really have done. Bring your hankies for the scene near the end (not in the novel, actually) in which Merton apologizes to Milly. This invented scene crystallizes all of the emotion and makes the movie fulfilling in a way a straight working of the novel could not have been.
Helena is good, but her character is simplified somewhat from the book. I think this should have at least been up for Best Picture. See it.
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