The Portrait Of A Lady

If you're bored to distraction with safe, unimaginative movie versions of great books, take heart: Jane Campion's bold and brilliant rendering of Henry James' masterpiece has single-handedly raised the high-water mark of literary adaptations. Nicole Kidman is superb as the strong-willed Isabel Archer, a 19th-century American girl living in Europe and determined...read more

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If you're bored to distraction with safe, unimaginative movie versions of great books, take heart: Jane Campion's bold and brilliant rendering of Henry James' masterpiece has single-handedly raised the high-water mark of literary adaptations. Nicole Kidman is

superb as the strong-willed Isabel Archer, a 19th-century American girl living in Europe and determined to meet her destiny on her own terms. After her wealthy uncle (John Gielgud) dies, Isabel inherits a fortune, a move orchestrated by her cousin Ralph (Martin Donovan) so that Isabel may better

fulfill her potential. But he's unwittingly set the stage for her downfall, as Isabel falls prey to the wiles of two American expatriates: the mysterious and seductive Madame Merle (Barbara Hershey, whose performance is a breathtaking tour de force), and her "friend," the amoral dilettante Gilbert

Osmond (John Malkovich). Stuart Dryburgh's elegantly eerie cinematography perfectly captures Isabel's passage into corruption, as the initial sunny palette darkens into chilly blues and velvety blacks. Campion and writer Laura Jones -- whose screenplay is a model of concision -- have managed to

strike the major chords of James complex fiction while allowing them to resonate with a thoroughly modern relevance. And with James poised to become the next literary source of choice, their considerable achievement will undoubtedly prove a very tough act to follow.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: If you're bored to distraction with safe, unimaginative movie versions of great books, take heart: Jane Campion's bold and brilliant rendering of Henry James' masterpiece has single-handedly raised the high-water mark of literary adaptations. Nicole Kidman… (more)

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