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The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

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

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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:
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Lord Warburton
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Edward Rosier
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Caspar Goodwood
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Pansy Osmond
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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:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nicole Kidman originally read the book at a young age in primary school and admittedly felt she didn't understand it. She reread it at the age of 21 and fell in love with it. 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: I call a person rich when he can meet the requirements of his imagination.
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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 The Killing Floor (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
If you've read the book, don't see it. If you haven't, you'll probably love it!
10 December 2003 | by See all my reviews

Isabel Archer is a complex, beautiful character as Henry James created her. She is assertive and a dreamer, if slightly naive. She is slightly uncomfortable in the new setting of England, having just moved there from America after her parents died, and the last thing she would do in front of her uncle is cry! She would also never let Gilbert Osmond (Malcovich's character) know he had hurt her - she kept all this inside. There is a subtle way to show these internal psychodramas, but Jane Campion could not find it.

I saw Portrait of a Lady after i read the book, so my experience was heavily coloured by that. The book is filled with sensitive characterisations and delicate psychodramas. One way of dramatising these internal conflicts is voice-over, instead the compromise here was to have Nicole Kidman cry at the drop of a chapeau. Just not at all in the Henry James tradition.


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