Monday, April 4, 2011

Helena Bonham Carter in The Wings of the Dove

Helena Bonham Carter received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Kate Croy, an impoversihed woman in the movie, The Wings of the Dove. Although nowadays Judi Dench and Helen Hunt are said to have been favored to win the Oscar, Helena received the most of the critics' awards. She was pretty much a dark horse to win and I think she had her share of fans in the Academy, too. Still, she was the fourth in the voting. She got more votes than Julie Christie, I think but she couldn't really overcome the strength of the other three nominees.

The Wings of the Dove is such a great, stylish movie that has mindblowingly beautiful cinematography and fabulous costumes. Titanic was wonderful but I would have given the technical awards to this movie. OK, I admit being extremely fond of period pieces and this one is not an exception, either. The actors give very proper performances, the directing is quite good and the screenplay is excellently written. All in all, the movie is a real joy to watch and I would gladly see it once again.

I also admit being very fond of Helena Bonham Carter. Some may be tired of her usual "Tim Burton's leading lady" self but I simply love her in every possible way. She's so fun and unusual and I always love the touch subtle humor she adds to her characters. That's why I really liked her The King's Speech and I wouldn't have minded had she won this year. All things considered, I expected something very dark and unusual in this performance.

However, this is not the Helena Bonham Carter, I've known and loved so far. This performance is truly unusual and unorthodox and yet it's very different from her usually unusual movies. this is early Helena Bonham Carter we know from A Room with a View and Howard's End mixed with her newest works. And what an astonishing, breathtaking, gutwrenching combination it is. To put it shortly, this performance is Helena is amazing. Amazing and pitch-perfect in every possible way.

Kate Croy is such a terrific, complex character that's incredibly hard to play for the actress who has to inhabit her. On the one hand, she's very loving and has a certain kindness in herself. On the other hand, she can be extremely manipulative and jealous. Just think about the dancing scene at the Venice carnival when her boyfriend dances with the dying American girl. Helena has a visible disappointment on her face but also she has a kind of "I hope you die soon, bitch." face. Kate's emotions are very hard to interpret and they can be so easily misunderstood by both the performer and the audience.

The thing I admire most about this thrilling, confusing performance is the effective subtlety and the distance that she adds to this character. The fact that Helena made Kate such a mysterious person, made her ten times more interesting. Whenever she's on the screen, there's a kind of electric, sizzling feeling in it. Although she's quite often off-screen, her effect is so so strong that I was haunted by her even when she wasn't there. I wasn't waiting for her to come because I wanted more of her but because she was so great that I couldn't have enough of it.

Furthermore, it's not only about her overall effect but also the fabulous scenes that totally blew me away. One is the previously mentioned one in Venice and the one after that when she revealed the truth to her lover. She seems to be so manipulative and yet I couldn't help feeling really sorry for her character. Helena reveals the darker side of this character so thrillingly and fascinatingly and I was simlpy mesmerized by her.

Also, I must mention the monologue that was her Oscar clip. Boy, they couldn't have chosen a better one if they had tried even harder. Helena delivered the line "I love you more" so heartbreakingly that I was feeling sorry about her. And her very last scene with her lover is simply stunning. She starts crying while she's having sex and her desperation was so close and believable there. It was probably the most miserable moment of this character. I never felt that Kate was a real ice queen, she was just really desperate and I think her last scene confirms my point.

So, to sum up, this is a fantastic, subtle performance by a very unusual actress who's at the top of her game here. As Kate Croy, Helena Bonham Carter managed to create fascinating, multi-layered and mysterious character that is surely very interesting. I was totally blown away by Helena who gave astonishing work and I am not surprised at all at the amount of love that Helena gets for this great achievement. Haunting, disturbing, beautiful.

I so want to be stingy with my 5s but I cannot resist. She's so brilliant.

What do you think?


Fritz said...

Haven't seen her yet but I expect to like her! :-)

dinasztie said...

I think you will like her.

Louis Morgan said...

She is most likely going to be your pick, unless this is a really strong year, which it seems like it is.

Anonymous said...

I ranked her last - parts of it were great, but overall I wasn't that impressed by it.

dinasztie said...

Well, I loved Helena in this and in general. :D

mrripley said...

Astonishing should've hands down won,what did you think of alison elliott.

dinasztie said...

Elliott was quite good but Helena blew me away above all. :)

Chelsea said...

Oh wow, you summed it up perfectly! I was nodding while reading the entire time, lol. I fell in love with Helena when I saw this movie. Previously I had only known her as Tim Burton's wife who gets cast as someone crazy in all of his movies. But then I met the old Helena. She's one hell of an actress! Kate's persona is very complicated, which makes her all the more interesting. Helena gives her the exact amount of charisma that is required. And I agree, that last scene was so raw..

dinasztie said...

Thanks Chelsea! I also love Helena. :D

Alex in Movieland said...

loved her when I first saw the film. I also adored the book.
it's an easy win here :)