6.3/10
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The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

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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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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

17 January 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Retrato de una dama See more »

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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shelley Duvall learned Italian to portray Countess Gemini. See more »

Goofs

(at around 47 mins) A horse carriage is passing through the shot from right to left. The crew with dolly-cam and equipment is clearly visible. See more »

Quotes

Ralph Touchett: And remember this, that if you've been hated, you're also been loved.
See more »

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

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 »

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User Reviews

 
Actual line "You don't loose your temper, you find it, and that must be beautiful"
4 August 2007 | by buddybickfordSee all my reviews

If the Carry on Team made 'Carry On Florence' would people who wear Panama hats still watch it because it's in Florence? Well they may as well, as it would have about the same dinner party kudos as Jane Campion's 'The Portrait of a Lady', this film pins all of its hopes on appealing to the same crowd who have the directors cut of 'A room with a view', which incidentally should never sit next to this passionless nonsense on a DVD rack, it would be like putting a Chopin CD next to a Booty Gyals Rap attack CD.

Anyway to cut to the chase for some reason we the audience just like the cast are supposed to be captivated and / or in some way enchanted by Isabel Archer(Played by Nicole Kidman) who if she were a Cocktail would be a glass of Luke warm tap water, admittedly she is unforgettable as she had an Austrailian accent throughout, and sported a full head of red Pubic hair. Nevertheless the film carries on regardless (ooops wasn't that a Carry on?) assuming (insisting) that you're sold on Ms Archer and her great invisible bag of charm.

She teases three men who are all clamoring for her affection, all of whom may have had their own personalities and characters but you won't know as it didn't seem important to include such detail.

Only when she gets to Florence does she finally meet someone who can match her invisible bag of charm, he comes in the very camp average form of Gilbert Osmond played by John Malkovich, he does however speak (again slightly camply) in a consistent whispering single tone, that similar to serial killers, this seems for the most part to be just what Mssss Archer had been missing whilst plagued by all of those Testosterone touting 'oh so predictable' men. He is completely ill equipt as a seducer both physically and mentally but then again Ms Archer has about the same kit, therefore the question is, does anyone care what happens to empty boring people, in an empty boring film?

During a business trip a colleague of mine asked me to watch this, I said to her jokingly that it sounds like a Chick Flick and that I had already seen Fried Green Tomatoes (a good film), she insisted it wasn't.....Shelly Winters (Great actress) was in the opening credits.. need I say more... as De Niro would say 'Whatchagonnadoo?'

A supporting character that shouldn't go unmentioned is Henrietta Stackpole played by Mary-Louise Parker, she is completely 1990... every time she was in a scene I couldn't help trying to spot her time machine, she even had that new contrived horrible spoiled nasal Californian accent, you know instead of saying 'never ever' they say 'Navaar Avaaaar'.

I just hope no 'Ladies' try and watch this in the innocent hope it may trigger some wild passionate dreams about moody Barons fighting in moonlit Florence over their 'Porcelain beauty'.. because ladies you'll be disappointed, and if things are so bad you're not disappointed, and that this film does indeed tick your passion boxes ... then you need a divorce....or your Husband does.


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