The distinguished director/producer/writer team of James Ivory, Ismail Merchant, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala returns to the works of 19th century novelist Henry James in this adaptation of his tale of love and treachery. Wealthy American art collector Adam Verver (Nick Nolte) is traveling Europe with his daughter Maggie (Kate Beckinsale) following the death of his wife. In their travels, Adam and Maggie encounter Mrs. Assingham (Anjelica Huston), an American socialite who enjoys playing matchmaker, whether or not her subjects are interested. She introduces Maggie to Prince Amerigo (Jeremy Northam), a handsome but penniless member of Italian royalty, and after a bit of prodding, they announce their intention to marry. Mrs. Assingham also pushes Adam into a relationship with Charlotte (Uma Thurman), a close friend of Maggie, and they too decide to wed. However, no one else knows that Amerigo and Charlotte were once lovers, who broke off their relationship because he couldn't marry a commoner with no money. Their passion is eventually too strong to resist, and they embark on an adulterous affair, which becomes even more dangerous when Mrs. Assingham learns of it. The Golden Bowl was Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala's third film based on a James novel, following The Europeans (1979) and The Bostonians (1984).
by Mark Deming synopsis