as Kate Croy in THE WINGS OF THE DOVE (1997)

In early 1900s London, Kate Croy lives under the careful watch of her domineering Aunt Maude, who is determined that the woman does not follow in the path of her recently deceased mother, whose dissolute husband, squandered her wealth. Maude wants Kate to marry the well-off Lord Mark, who has a title and estates, despite the fact that Kate does not love him. Kate is dependent on her wealthy aunt's goodwill, but abandons her plans to defy her aunt when she is reminded that her father is at Maud's mercy as well.  

"I know that it must be difficult to write when you’re with her all the time, but please try; if only to reassure me. In my head I follow you around the streets and canals. Sometimes I even see you touch her, and I’m suddenly scared. Even if you don’t write back, read this letter again and again. And every time she looks at you, and every time she smiles… Don’t forget I love you more"
                                         - Kate Croy

Helena Bonham Carter received her first and only Oscar nomination in the Best Actress category for her performance as Kate Croy, an impoverished British woman, trapped by her wealthy aunt, the latter aware of Kate's clandestine affair with Merton Densher a young man with no money, and threatens her with expulsion unless she breaks off the relationship, adding that she will also stop giving handouts to her father, Kate has no choice but to obey, and Merton disappears from her life. Helena Bonham Carter perfectly embodies the tragic heroine both romantic, impulsive and free-spirited, and she manages to give a very deep and touching performance. 
She takes high risks and adds a very haunting and fragile side to her portrayal, allowing us to be affected by her torments and her love for Merton. When she meets Merton again at a party, her face is clear and tells us everything, she tries to hide her emotions, but she can’t and she suddenly becomes so vulnerable. It’s a very heartbreaking scene, because she knows that she loves him but she can’t be with him. Then Kate is introduced to Millie Theale, an American orphan and heiress. When Kate learns that Millie is fatally ill, the latter provides Kate with not only a trip to Venice, but an opportunity to break free of her aunt and her poverty. At this right moment, Kate Croy becomes a more complex and unusual character, and Helena Bonham Carter shows this paradox quite perfectly. Kate Croy appears kind and lovely, but also jealous, bitter and manipulative. The fictional character of Kate Croy is a very ambiguous one, and Helena Bonham Carter brings brilliantly all the complexity to her interpretation. Until the very end, we are still wondering: Does Kate really care about Millie? Or is this just a question of money? – We never really know her true intentions. This is the true testament of a great performance. The last scene between Merton and Kate is raw and brutal: full of despair and hardness. We easily understand that finally they are both trapped, and that their relation will never be the same.  

"Bonham Carter never allows the audience to lose the feeling that Kate truly does care about Milly--it's just that she cares about herself even more."
                                                                                               - The Movie Report

Helena Bonham Carter gives a first rate-performance, She manages to portray the human emotions that lead Kate to make her choices and never fails showing us all the impulsivity and the complexity of her character. 



  1. This is one of my favourite performances ever. Helena is a wonderful actress, and is just perfect as Kate. She easily is the best between 1997 nominees, even though Dame Judi, Kate Winslet and Helen Hunt delivered excellent performances. I hope she will be you pick!

  2. I love her, what an endlessly brilliant, fascinating performance.

  3. A briliant performance by one of my favourite actresses. I'm so glkad you apreciated this incredibly complex and ambiguous performance. One of the things I've always admired about HBC is her hability to infuse her performances in period roles such as Howards End, The Wings of the Dove and A Room with a View, with a certain ambiguity and darkness. To me she is clearly the best of the 1997 nominees. Loved your review by the way.

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