In the moral universe of Henry James's fiction, people are far too concerned about money and manners. That certainly is true in The Wings of the Dove. Helena Bonham Carter gives a nuanced performance as Kate, a greedy young woman whose fortunes have improved after being taken in by her wealthy Aunt Maude (Charlotte Rampling). She resents the imperiousness of this domineering relative who wants her to marry into high society.
Kate is secretly dating Merton Densher (Linus Roache), a handsome but penniless journalist. Their affair is set on a new course with the arrival of Millie (Alison Elliott), an orphaned American heiress. Kate decides to accompany Millie and her companion (Elizabeth McGovern) on a trip to Venice. Merton joins them later. However, when Kate learns that Millie is terminally ill, she sets in motion a scheme that violates the souls of the only two people in the world who love her.
Director Iain Softley has done a superb job bringing Henry James's complicated character study to the screen. This compelling drama reveals the havoc wrought by those who try to control other people's lives.