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:

Jane Campion

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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
Roger Ashton-Griffiths ... Bob Bantling
Catherine Zago Catherine Zago ... Mother Superior
Alessandra Vanzi 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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In addition to the Oscar winners and nominees previously listed Richard E Grant was also nominated in 2019. See more »

Goofs

During the ball scene, a full orchestra can be heard while only a chamber orchestra (less than ten people) appears on the screen. See more »

Quotes

Isabel Archer: My cousin. He's dying. I must go to him.
Gilbert Osmond: Your cousin was dying when we married. He'll outlive us all.
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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

Concerto No. 5 in F Minor for Harpsichord and Strings, BWV 1056
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert
Courtesy of Archiv Production
By Arrangement with PolyGram Film & TV Licensing
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User Reviews

 
Supporting Cast saves this Film
12 January 2007 | by JoffiSee all my reviews

I have always enjoyed period pieces, good adaptations even more so. This film, however, is really only worth a 5 - an average film - if not for the strong performances of the supporting cast. The work of Barbara Hershey and Martin Donovan in particular is stellar, raising my rating to 6 on their merit alone.

Aside from those two, this film is an exercise in 'almosts' and 'not quites'. It is almost engaging enough, yet just short of drawing me completely in. It not quite makes me believe Nicole Kidman's Isabel is worthy of the love of so many. The love shown by the suitors is believable enough (again, a well acted supporting cast), I simply do not quite believe the object of that love would elicit it.

Still, the film is good. It is a pity, though. It could have been great.


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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

17 January 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Portrait of a Lady See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$107,819, 29 December 1996

Gross USA:

$3,692,836

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,692,836
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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