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The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 17 January 1997 (USA)
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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.

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Isabel Archer
... Gilbert Osmond
... Madame Serena Merle
... Henrietta Stackpole
... Ralph Touchett
... Mrs. Touchett
... Lord Warburton
... Countess Gemini
... Edward Rosier
... Caspar Goodwood
... Pansy Osmond
... Mr. Touchett
... Bob Bantling
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 »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$134,805, 29 December 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,692,836, 24 February 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Nicole Kidman, Christian Bale, John Gielgud and Shelley Winters; and three Oscar nominees: John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey and Viggo Mortensen. 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

Ralph Touchett: And remember this, that if you've been hated, you're also been loved.
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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 Gossip Girl: Portrait of a Lady Alexander (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Hidden Treasures
Composed by George Fenton and John Leach
Provided by Associated Production Music
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User Reviews

 
A cool, enigmatic film, but stylish...
13 September 1998 | by See all my reviews

An interesting film with an undercurrent of sexual repression similar to that in Campion's other films. Nicole Kidman is excellent, given the material, though her transition from likeable, virtuous innocent to a cold and corrupted woman doesn't ring as true as it should--the three years glossed over with a subtitle isn't adequate to show the change. I blame this on the interpretation, direction, and/or editing rather than Kidman's performance, however. Malkovich is not as strong, and one wonders what any woman could see in him as a lover.

The ending is cold and unsettling. Most filmgoers prefer to know that their hero/heroine is "safe" at the end of the story. Here, who knows ?

Production values are good, and the film is quite stylish with interesting use of camera tilt, lighting, and angles. It's quite artsy. I am glad I saw the film, but acknowledge it's not likely to be everyone's cup of tea.


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