6.3/10
8,682
68 user 58 critic

The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 17 January 1997 (USA)
Trailer
2:11 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Bobby Platt is a mentally slow young man who escapes an abusive, hateful stepfather who has killed his pets one by one. To save himself, Bobby runs away and meets a strange old man who ... See full summary »

Director: Jeremy Thomas
Stars: John Hurt, Christian Bale, Daniel Benzali
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

London of the late 19th century is a haven for political exiles of all sorts - refugees, partisans, anarchists. Verloc has made his living spying for the Russian government, an agent ... See full summary »

Director: Christopher Hampton
Stars: Bob Hoskins, Patricia Arquette, Gérard Depardieu
Metroland (1997)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The sudden reappearance of his best friend Toni, after ten years absence, causes Chris to remember his past, to question some of his lifestyle decisions and to re-evaluate his life and marriage to Marion.

Director: Philip Saville
Stars: Christian Bale, Lee Ross, Emily Watson
The Piano (1993)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she's soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.

Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill
You Laugh (1998)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Two segments: In the first one Felice, a baritone who has had to give up his career because of a heart condition and now works as an accountant at the Opera, inexplicably spends his nights ... See full summary »

Directors: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
Stars: Antonio Albanese, Giuseppe Cederna, Luca Zingaretti
Mon amie Max (1994)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Catherine, a concert pianist, is surprised one night by the arrival of her best friend from childhood, Marie-Alexandrine (Max), whom she hasn't seen for 25 years. Catherine and Max were ... See full summary »

Director: Michel Brault
Stars: Geneviève Bujold, Marthe Keller, Johanne McKay
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After another cardiac arrest, Armand knows he doesn't have long to live. But after more than 70 years in the same house, he doesn't want to die anywhere else. His wife, Rose, has secretly ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Pierre Lefebvre
Stars: Marthe Nadeau, J. Léo Gagnon, Marcel Sabourin
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

In Quebec 40s, orphans or abandoned children are placed in a gigantic psychiatric hospital where children were locked. Were they sick? No, they simply had no family. To escape this ... See full summary »

Director: Claude Jutra
Stars: Paule Baillargeon, Ginette Boivin, Lisette Dufour
Trotta (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Director: Johannes Schaaf
Stars: András Bálint, Rosemarie Fendel, Doris Kunstmann
Illusion (1975)
Short | Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A magician tries to lure the children away from nature with his tricks.

Director: Frédéric Back
Abracadabra (1970)
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Director: Frédéric Back
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Director: Frédéric Back
Edit

Cast

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

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 »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Susan Sarandon was originally cast to play Madame Merle, but had to pull out when the shooting schedule was delayed and interfered with the beginning of her daughter's school year. Barbara Hershey played the role instead, and received her first Academy Award nomination for her performance. See more »

Goofs

When Isabel is attempting to retrieve her parasol from Mr. Osmond, all camera shots of her show the bow around her neck to her right. However, there is one camera shot that shows the bow to her left. See more »

Quotes

Isabel Archer: Why should there be pain then? That's not the deepest thing.
Ralph Touchett: Pain's deep... but it passes, after all. It's passing now but love remains.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In loving memory of J.E.C. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Killing Floor (2007) 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.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

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.


18 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Nicole's accent: what is the deal? suze-4
Hated it dontpanik
Christian Bale ericajv12
Someone explain please.... finch6789@aol.com
The ending and the fainting ariadreamer
Question about Pansy mouse__07
Discuss The Portrait of a Lady (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?