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.
When Lucy Honeychurch and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr Emerson and son George step in to remedy the situation. Meeting... See full summary »
Helena Bonham Carter,
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
Some of the distinctive pleated gowns worn in the Venice scenes are designed to look like gowns produced by the Italian designer Fortuny. Fortuny pleated gowns were popular among wealthy European women in the early 1910s for their simplicity, form-fitting design and Greco-Roman influences. The gowns in this film, however, were created by contemporary husband and wife team Charles and Patricia Lester, who create modern gowns with a similar pleat. See more »
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 »
Every time she smiles, remember that I love you more.
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This was not one of my favorite novels when I read it (for James, I prefer THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY), but this is a very good film. Director Iain Softley and writer Hossein Amini made the smart decision to move this up in time to the 1910's, which enables them to get to the passions more than James does here. Softley also makes this darker than most literary adaptations, in look and in tone, without suffocating it, and he avoids making this a film about production design rather than about a story. He does labor a bit in trying for tragedy, but that's only a quibble.
Alison Elliot, a good actress (I liked her in THE UNDERNEATH and the otherwise flawed THE SPITFIRE GRILL), takes awhile to warm up as Millie, because she seems a little too modern, but she avoids easy sentiment as the dying heiress. Linus Roache, who I thought was a little awkward in PRIEST, here avoids the trap of being the third wheel, making us understand what both Millie and Kate see in Merton. But the real triumph here is Helena Bonham Carter, who gave the best performance of the year. One character says of Kate, "There's something going on behind those beautiful lashes," and that can usually be said of the characters Carter plays, but sometimes she's overly detached. Here, she's completely engaged, and she pulls off the difficult trick of never losing our sympathies even when her character does something despicable. And where James sort of made Kate just manipulative, Carter makes her human and longing.
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