Kate's mother gave up wealth and trappings to marry her opium-addict husband. Kate is offered her mother's old wealth on the condition that she severe ties with her father and journalist boyfriend Merton. Reluctantly she agrees, but is soon hatching a plan to have it all by befriending an American heiress in Venice.
Director lain Softley thankfully succeeds where so many predecessors have failed in finding a way to wring Henry James into celluloid form without boring his audience to death. Tapping into those trusty themes of love, loyalty, deceit and tragedy within tight, social constraints, Helena Bonham Carter plots with journo boyfriend Linus Roache to befriend dying American heiress Alison Elliott while holidaying in glamorous, sensual Venice, only for emotional consequences to boil out of control. This is a subtle, compelling affair with good performances from the lead trio, and Softley simultaneously creating a very modern texture while capturing the historic visual splendour of his locations.
This is a compelling film, well acted and beautifully shot.