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Painted Lady
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Reviews & Ratings for
Painted Lady (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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23 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

absolutely fabulous in every way

10/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
6 August 2001

Another knockout performance by Helen Mirren as a down and out '60s folk singer who, in order to help the family that took her in, goes undercover as an art dealer. Mirren, of course, does the transition from drugged-out hippie throwback to a glamorous woman of the world perfectly in this intriguing and very exciting story. Iain Glen as Sebastian is charismatic and wonderful, as is the entire cast. Probably the best part of this mini-series is Mirren, as Maggie, interacting with her sister and brother-in-law. The family dynamics hit a perfect note. This is a must-see on all levels - acting, drama and suspense with warmth and humor thrown in. Mirren is not only a great actress but one with impeccable taste when it comes to many of the scripts that have been produced and shown in the U.S. on public television. Bravo!

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Seen it 6 times, keeps getting better and better....

10/10
Author: i_eat_coathangers (nicoop@optusnet.com.au) from Sydney, Australia
15 October 2001

Maggie Sheridan, a semi-retired singer, is the first to find the body of Charles Stafford, a war veteran who is like a father to her.

When it is apparent that Stafford was killed during a robbery, people stealing artworks from his home, Maggie goes to all lengths to find the killer of Charles, and to buy back the one painting that the robbers got away with. She travels to London to see her half-sister Suzie and brother-in-law Oliver, and eventually travels to New York under a fake name and passport, becoming an unscrupulous Polish art dealer named Megdalena Krasinska, and there, finds out more than she bargained for...

The twists and turns in this film's plot, as well as the gritty portrayal of the illegal art world make this an excellent film in the thriller and drama genres. The plot is full of suspense and tension, yet full of lovely, friendly, fun, realistic characters at the same time.

Helen Mirren in this film is at her best since Prime Suspect (or so the trailer says - but I don't know if I can rate all her perfect performances like that), and Franco Nero is hypnotically appealing as the Italian-but-living-in-New-York dealer, Roberto Tassi.

And now, hoping that you will take my advice and go hire this if you can, I leave you with my favorite quote from the whole movie:

[Oliver Peel returns home from work(?)to hear 'Wild Thing' playing incredibly loudly on his stereo. Unbeknown to him Maggie has been given keys to their home by her sister Suzie, his wife. He walks into another room and then reappears, weilding a cricket bat above his head...he pounds up the stairs, throws open the bathroom door and... ...there is Maggie, lying in the bath, hair all wrapped up in a towel, completely naked, smoking a ciggarette...]

Maggie: Good match?

Oliver (lowing the bat): Rain stopped play.

10 out of 10!!!!!!!!!!

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Washed-up Blues Singer's Courageous Turn as Undercover Art Dealer

8/10
Author: bybo64 from United States
1 December 2005

The incomparable Helen Mirren is washed-up blues singer Maggie Sheridan, living on an estate in Ireland where she has been rescued from heroin addiction by faithful childhood friend Sebastian Stafford (a beautiful performance by Iain Glen).

When we meet her Maggie has been vegetating in semi-retirement on the estate in a guest cottage for some ten years. We see her finishing recording a demo with a (much younger) local Irish musician, and they are about to take a dip in the bath together when gunshots are heard across the grounds. It seems there has been a theft of paintings owned by the Staffords, with tragic consequences.

From there writer Cubitt has Maggie trekking across Ireland, England, and New York in search of paintings and criminals; and with the very reluctant help of her art dealer sister and brother-in-law, posing as an international art dealer.

Maggie is 50 years old without family or husband, but at turns remarkably charming, debauched, and courageous - a fascinating character. And what Cubitt has given us (and Mirren) is an unforgettable portrait of a woman who risks her life for those she considers family, and what she considers home.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Curl up with this like you would with a Christie or Sayers novel

7/10
Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
12 October 2004

"Painted Lady" is a 3.5 hour, two part miniseries made for Masterpiece Theater and featuring Helen Mirren as Maggie, a down and out and aging ex-druggie/blues singer who inhabits a cottage on the Ireland estate of a well-to-do friend. When her friend is murdered, Maggie makes an unlikely transformation as she turns herself into a countess, enters the world of classical painting treasures, and sets about to bring the killer to justice. A cozy mystery with a whiff of sex and drugs but nary a harsh word spoken, this typical Masterpiece Theater TV fare is a mildly entertaining watch which keeps moving as it becomes increasingly convoluted. On the downside, Mirren is much too sagacious and elegant for a down and out blues singer and the warm and fuzzy milieu fits the intended audience better than the story. On the upside, this Mirren tour de force and tale of intrigues in the world of art is captivating, engrossing, and sufficiently substantiative to keep the viewer involved for the long haul. Recommended for more mature viewers and those who enjoy the very civilized Masterpiece Theater fare. (B)

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Excellent mini-series

10/10
Author: Gillian (ngg3) from Newcastle
7 August 2002

Talented actors, strong performances, music, murder, suspense and art history - what more could you ask for? To follow-up on the comment by blanche-2, the dynamics between Helen Mirren's character and her family are really humourous. Michael Maloney is excellently cast as 'Oliver Peel' along with Lesley Manville as his wife. If you get the chance to see this series - do - you won't regret it. :0)

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Some fun and good acting, but a Nero miss

8/10
Author: pswitzertatum from Portland, Oregon, USA
24 November 2004

Helen Mirren is always a joy to watch as she gets her chops around a part. I think she had fun here tramping skillfully through several cultures, costumes, and accents. It looks like she can sing, too. The Irish bit got lost along the way, however. The house and scenery are great wherever we are. And there are some pretty good supporting players on the trip. I think the writing on the initial screenplay sounds like it was good, from the featurette on the DVD, but somewhere along the road, either in the directing or the editing perhaps, something essential got lost. My willing suspension of disbelief went with it. Nice try, sort of fun to watch, except for Nero, who should burn with shame for his hamfisted acting. Why would Helen ever fall for him?!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Going for Baroque

10/10
Author: jshoaf from Florida
1 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this on TV over a decade ago, kept a tape of it at whose spine I looked fondly from time to time, and finally saw it again on Netflix with my husband last night. He was not immediately enthralled (though I was, all over again). After the first hour or so, we had to keep watching as the suspense and loose ends multiply, and I had forgotten the twists and turns. I love way the plot works out and the loose ends are tied up. On second viewing, however, with a more critical companion, I realized how absurd some of the best plot developments and most memorable scenes actually are.

At some level, the production works because of the way it is haunted by images of Baroque paintings, saints in various violent and twisted poses and situations. The love of art is intense in many of the characters, and when Maggie finally sees Artemesia's Judith canvas her face tells us that this violent, even horrible scene is beautiful. (Another important painting in the story is a Goya bullfight scene.) As in a Caravaggio painting, the faces--the performances--stand out as realistic, everyday people, recognizable in the street (or at least the streets of drama)--they are complex, confused, liable to do stupid things or to misunderstand a given situation completely. Many of them are obsessed by symbols, too--Charles dies at the beginning of the story because he cannot bear to see his long-dead wife's rather ugly portrait damaged; Maggie carries her father's cigarette case like a fetish. The way these characters meet each other and interact in the gloom of the plot is beautiful and moving. But their motivations remain murky and incomprehensible.

Mirren performs a fabulous double role--Maggie the tough streetwise bohemian earth-mother artist and her alter ego The Countess, whose knowledge, apparent prosperity, and aristocratic manner hide a terrible fragility. Maggie is of course acting the role of The Countess, worrying that the mask may slip, but her sister at one point implies that she is also acting the role of Maggie. Maggie lives in her own world, a world of music, in which emotional attachments last a long time and give life shape and meaning. That "explains" everything.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Far Fetched but Fun

7/10
Author: JerseyBookworm
30 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I missed this when it was on Masterpiece Theater originally, actually had never even heard of it. But the premise sounded interesting, I really like mysteries that involve events that happened long before, so I gave it a try. And I have to say I really enjoyed it.

The performances were all good and earnest and as a result the movie was diverting even though the plot was preposterous. There are many twists and turns and much globe hopping involved. Helen Mirren, who I could watch read the phone book, carries off several different persona's for her character and they all appear effortless. But her character is one of those fantasies who, despite having a history of near-fatal substance abuse which also destroyed her career, is irresistible to all she meets, to the extent that an ex-boyfriend hands over a gun to her, no questions asked.

Another plot issue involves the Franco Nero character. While it is intriguing to imagine a mysterious art connection going back to WWII, Franco Nero was only about five years old when the events involved took place, including a homosexual love affair. Yeah, that is a problem. But the implausible plot is made semi-believable by the fine acting by all involved. And the sets are great.

So if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and you like convoluted mysteries with a historical twist, this is definitely an entertaining way to spend a few hours.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Couldn't have been much better

8/10
Author: abgkasjlkasjla from Denmark
25 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A break-in and robbery sets in motion the unfolding of a plot, and reveals unexpected secrets. That's about the briefest and least spoiler-filled description of what goes on in this I can provide. The story is impeccable, and immensely well-told. This is two episodes, both of about 100 minutes, so almost three hours and twenty all put together, and it's not boring for a second. The pacing is spot-on. Uncovering the mystery is interesting and keeps you watching, as does the genuine suspense that is built up expertly well in this. The sense of humor helps, as well, never letting this get too dark, and not being overdone or getting in the way of the overall serious tone, in spite of having a couple of entire sequences that are really, really funny. All of the acting performances are beyond reproach, if I don't necessarily fully accept Mirren as a former musician with the loose life-style that implies(no, the facial piercing didn't entirely sell it). That's probably mainly because I'm used to seeing her portray more dignified, in control women, anyway. The dialog is fantastic, memorable and clever, and writing as well as delivery are sharp as a prime quality razor-blade's edge. Cinematography and editing are magnificent, and not just "for a TV piece". Production value is high. This is rather credible, intelligent and entertaining, throughout. There is relatively brief nudity, some language and a bit of bloody violence. I recommend this to any fan of anyone who helped make it, British cinema and/or crime-dramas. 8/10

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

sloppy painting

1/10
Author: (lionel.libson@gmail.com) from United States
31 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reading the first comment, I wasn't sure that it was the same film I had just agonized through. From dialog to confused plot "Painted Lady" qualifies as a true Disaster film.

Where to begin? I fear that dissecting this cadaver would entail too many spoilers, though spoiling this film would be a redundancy.

There are enough clichés of plot and language to satisfy any B movie connoisseur. Characters come and go, money changes hands, Mirren repeatedly walks into dangerous situations, escaping primarily, through editing cuts to the next scene with no explanation. Near the end of the film, where she barely escapes with her life, we see her walk away without a huge painting that is the raison d'etre of the film. Once again the editor steps in to correct the oversight.

Details of plot and dialog are changed at will, leaving one to wonder about what is really going on. Helen Mirren seems to have reverted to her days in "Caligula", not on a sexual level, but rather for being associated with a story too banal for pulp fiction.

Reviewing my comment, I have been a trifle negative...only because of my self-restraint.

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