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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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>
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 »
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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