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The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  17 January 1997 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 8,359 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 66 user | 55 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

An American girl inherits a fortune and falls into a misguided relationship with a gentleman confidence artist whose true nature, including a barbed and covetous disposition, turns her life into a nightmare.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Catherine Zago ...
Mother Superior
Alessandra Vanzi ...
Nun #2
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Storyline

Isabel Archer, an American heiress and free thinker travels to Europe to find herself. She tactfully rebuffs the advances of Caspar Goodwood, another American who has followed her to England. Her cousin, Ralph Touchett, wise but sickly becomes a soulmate of sorts for her. She makes an unfortunate alliance with the creepy Madame Merle who leads her to make an even more unfortunate alliance with Gilbert Osmond, a smooth but cold collector of Objets' de art who seduces her with an intense but unattainable sexuality. Isabel marries Osmond only to realize she's just another piece of art for his collection and that Madame Merle and Osmond are lovers who had hatched a diabolical scheme to take Isabel's fortune. Isabel's only comfort is the innocent daughter of Osmond, Pansy, but even that friendship is spoiled when Countess Gemini, Osmond's sister, reveals the child's true parentage. Isabel finally breaks free of Osmond and returns to Ralph's bedside, where, while breathing his last, they ... Written by Teresa B. <O'Donnell@worldnet.att.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature sensuality and some brief nudity | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

17 January 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Retrato de una dama  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

ITL 5,570,319,000 (Italy) (15 November 1996)

Gross:

£575,908 (UK) (14 March 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Daniel Day-Lewis was offered the role of Ralph, but turned it down. See more »

Goofs

(at around 47 mins) A horse carriage is passing through the shot from right to left. The crew with dolly-cam and equipment is clearly visible. See more »

Quotes

Ralph Touchett: I call a person rich when he can meet the requirements of his imagination.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Jane Campion thanks her family, Colin, Alice and Richard, for their generous support, suggestions and encouragement during the making of this film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cruise on Kubrick (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Impromptu in A Flat Major, Op 90 No. 4, D899
(1828)
Composed by Franz Schubert
Adapted for screen by Brian Lock
Performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet (as Jean Yves Thibaudet)
Courtesy of Decca Records Company Ltd.
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User Reviews

Incomplete Portrait
31 May 2000 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

I vacillate between preferring films that do a simple thing extremely well (Muppet Movie) or those that shoot high and fail. This film is the latter.

Campion has allied her aspirations with `women's' perspectives; honorable and rich enough. And she selects material ripe with possibilities. Clearly she has a vision, presumably extracted from the author's, but she fails to get on top of it.

Part of the problem is the simplification of the book for the screenplay. We just don't get enough foundation for the travesty of person we witness. A large part of the problem is Ms Kidman. She simply doesn't have the depth to pull this off, though she wears the clothes well. We never really see her supposed extraordinary spirit, and never really see how she's trapped by that very same spirit. Malkovich doesn't help. Here, he's too one-dimensionally a schemer.

Campion knows better than to throw in so many irrelevant film-school angles as a substitute for narrative reflection. This film is worth seeing as a study in how a spirited film maker is seduced by that very spirit into the superficialities of style, so is trapped. The ambiguous ending is, I think, Campion's limbo. Let's hope she escapes for her sake as well as ours. We need that spirit.


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