6.2/10
10,627
68 user 59 critic

The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

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

Director:

Jane Campion

Writers:

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

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Learn more

More Like This 

Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Bobby Platt (Christian Bale) is a mentally slow young man who escapes an abusive, hateful stepfather who has killed his pets one by one. To save himself, Bobby runs away and meets a strange... See full summary »

Director: Jeremy Thomas
Stars: John Hurt, Christian Bale, Daniel Benzali
Metroland (1997)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The sudden reappearance of his best friend Toni, after a ten year absence, causes Chris to remember his past, to question some of his lifestyle decisions and to re-evaluate his life and marriage to Marion.

Director: Philip Saville
Stars: Christian Bale, Lee Ross, Emily Watson
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

London of the late 19th century is a haven for political exiles of all sorts - refugees, partisans, anarchists. Verloc has made his living spying for the Russian government, an agent ... See full summary »

Director: Christopher Hampton
Stars: Bob Hoskins, Patricia Arquette, Gérard Depardieu
Sweetie (1989)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An introspective young woman's life is upturned by the arrival of her maladjusted sister.

Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Geneviève Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos
Holy Smoke (1999)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Ruth's been brainwashed by a guru in Delhi, India. Her parents in Sydney hire a specialist in reversing this. Ruth is tricked to return to Australia and is isolated in an outback cabin with the specialist. It gets messy.

Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, Julie Hamilton
Bright Star (2009)
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The three-year romance between 19th-century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne near the end of his life.

Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Paul Schneider
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Janet Frame was a brilliant child who, as a teen, was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. Explore Janet's discovery of the world and her life in Europe as her books are published to acclaim.

Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson
The Piano (1993)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In the mid-19th century, a mute woman is sent to New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.

Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill
Gimlet (1995)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Julia runs a trendy bar in Barcelona. She treats men with caution, believing one can love too much and invite pain. She's been dating Pablo, one of her waiters. After his grisly murder (his... See full summary »

Director: José Luis Acosta
Stars: Ángela Molina, Viggo Mortensen, Abel Folk
Royal Deceit (1994)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

An ancient Danish story of evil, power and human spirit, that subsequently inspired William Shakespeare on his tragedy - Hamlet.

Director: Gabriel Axel
Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Helen Mirren, Christian Bale
In the Cut (2003)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

New York City writing professor, Frannie Avery, has an affair with a police detective, who is investigating the murder of a beautiful young woman in her neighborhood.

Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In 1984, British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.

Director: Todd Haynes
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christian Bale
Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

First collaboration between Director Jane Campion and Nicole Kidman. However, it was Campion who discovered Kidman, where she, at the age of fourteen, was performing at Australian Theater for Young People and subsequently caught the eye of Campion. See more »

Goofs

they show piazza del Campidoglio in Rome as it was when they made the movie but the paving was put in place only in 1940, although following the 16th century project by Michelangelo, and the statue of Marcus Aurelius was regularly in place. It was removed for restoration in 1981 and then substituted by a copy in 1996. See more »

Quotes

Ralph Touchett: I love you but without hope.
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 »


Soundtracks

Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Courtesy of Audio Action
See more »

User Reviews

 
The Best Screen Adaptation of a Henry James Novel
17 January 2006 | by amileojSee all my reviews

Given the tenor of some of the other reviews posted here, I should start by making the extent of my disagreements clear.

First, this film is unquestionably Jane Campion's best work to date, and it represents, in particular, a significant advance beyond her previous work in The Piano.

Second, this film, while unapologetically feminist in point of view, in no sense attempts to shoehorn James's artistic vision into an ideological box for which it is unsuited. On the contrary, James has probably never been more sensitively interpreted on screen.

Third, purely as a film, The Portrait of a Lady belongs on a short shelf among the very best movies of the 1990's, of whatever genre.

Consider what Campion was up against: A literary adaptation, in the first place (itself almost a recipe for cinematic failure); a Henry James novel, in particular (a novelist who situated most of the "action" in his novels in the invisible social and psychological spaces between his characters, and whose works therefore constitute a kind of standing temptation to focus on picturesque/prestigious historical ambiance at the expense of narrative power); and a story, as James himself pointed out, centered on the seemingly quite confined topic of one very ordinary young woman's working out of her particular destiny.

Out of these distinctly unpromising materials, Ms. Campion created a film in which nearly every scene adds depth and color to her story, even after repeated viewings. And her Isabelle Archer (beautifully realized by Nicole Kidman, in possibly her finest performance to date) is as fully tested and tried by life's moral and epistemological ambiguities, and as fully responsive to life's promise, on film, as Henry James's heroine is, on the printed page. One could hardly ask for more.


29 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 68 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

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 »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$107,819, 29 December 1996

Gross USA:

$3,692,836

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,692,836
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 »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.



Recently Viewed