Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady

4.0 1
Director: Jane Campion

Cast: Jane Campion, Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey

     
 

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Jane Campion directed this expressive adaptation of the classic novel by Henry James. Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) is a young American woman who, after the death of her parents, has been sent to England to visit relatives. While her family's tragedy has left her penniless, Isabel's beauty has earned her the attentions of a number of eligible men. When Isabel turns… See more details below

Overview

Jane Campion directed this expressive adaptation of the classic novel by Henry James. Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) is a young American woman who, after the death of her parents, has been sent to England to visit relatives. While her family's tragedy has left her penniless, Isabel's beauty has earned her the attentions of a number of eligible men. When Isabel turns down a proposal of marriage from the wealthy Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant) because she does not love him, her cousin Ralph (Martin Donovan), who is also smitten with her, arranges for his father to leave her a fortune before succumbing to tuberculosis so that she may live as an independent woman. Isabel takes a tour of Europe, where she meets Madame Merle (Barbara Hershey), a jaded sophisticate and matchmaker who introduces her to Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich), a widowed American artist living abroad. Isabel falls in love with Gilbert and they marry, but his sloth and opportunism soon begin to wear on her, and three years later she is desperate to get out of their relationship. The Portrait of a Lady also stars John Gielgud, Mary-Louise Parker, Christian Bale, and Shelley Winters.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
Jane Campion (The Piano) is one of cinema's most extraordinary stylists, a fact that is nowhere more clearly displayed than in this gorgeous adaptation of the great Henry James novel. Boldly cinematic, even experimental in her approach to this ultra-literary material, Campion stamps her signature on every shot of the film, making James's heartbreaking tale of shattered illusions utterly her own. Nicole Kidman is equally superb in her performance as Isabel Archer, a wealthy young American who arrives on the Continent with vague dreams of forging a unique place for herself in the world. Instead, she opts for marriage to a seductive sophisticate (John Malkovich). Kidman effectively portrays Isabel's slide from youthful ambition to compromised resignation, making her all-too-familiar passage believable and touching. She receives strong support from the rest of the cast, especially Barbara Hershey's tragic voluptuary and Christian Bale's fevered romantic. In the end, though, Portrait of a Lady is dominated by Campion's and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh's unforgettable imagery. The use of color is particularly striking; in a film composed largely of muted grays, browns and dark blues, the heroine's brief period of happiness is highlighted by a burst of rainbow hues. Like its source material, Campion's vivid Portrait of a Lady avoids neat resolutions, leaving viewers with haunting impressions that linger long after the movie is over.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Given The Piano's singular period story about an independent-minded woman, it is not surprising that Jane Campion's stylized version of Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady (1996) is more of an interpretation rather than an adaptation. With an opening montage of modern women, Campion and screenwriter Laura Jones stake a claim to the contemporary resonance in the story of naïve American heiress Isabel Archer. Injecting moments of surreal fantasy into the beautifully expressive, blue-tinged period surroundings, Campion alludes to the cravings that provoke Isabel to reject a safe marriage in favor of freedom. Why Isabel is easily seduced by the scheming Mme. Merle and the reptilian fortune hunter Osmond, however, remains elusive; John Malkovich's transparently malevolent Osmond makes Nicole Kidman's Isabel an inexplicable fool for love. Still, Barbara Hershey's complex Mme. Merle speaks to the damage inflicted on women by an oppressive social order, while Martin Donovan's eloquently restrained cousin Ralph powerfully attests to what might have been for Isabel. Provoking a deeply mixed response, The Portrait of a Lady failed to repeat The Piano's success, though the costumes and Hershey's performance earned Oscar nominations.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/18/1997
UPC:
0044004379731
Original Release:
1996
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Polygram Usa Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Nicole Kidman Isabel Archer
John Malkovich Gilbert Osmond
Barbara Hershey Madame Serena Merle
Mary-Louise Parker Henrietta Stackpole
Martin Donovan Ralph Touchett
Shelley Winters Mrs. Touchett
Richard E. Grant Lord Warburton
Shelley Duvall Countess Gemini
Christian Bale Edward Rosier
Viggo Mortensen Caspar Goodwood
Valentina Cervi Pansy Osmond
John Gielgud Mr.Touchett

Technical Credits
Jane Campion Director,Screenwriter
Stuart Dryburgh Cinematographer
Steve Golin Producer
Laura Jones Screenwriter
Wojciech Kilar Score Composer,Songwriter
Monty Montgomery Producer
Janet Patterson Costumes/Costume Designer,Production Designer
Mark Turnbull Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Peter Glossop Sound/Sound Designer
Mark Raggett Art Director
Veronika Jenet Editor
Johanna Ray & Associates Casting
Ann Wingate Co-producer
Henry James Source Author

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