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The Portrait Of A Lady [DVD] 
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Jane Campion directs this adaptation of the Henry James novel. Independent woman Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) refuses two suitors, Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant) and Caspar Goodwood (Viggo Mortensen), when they propose marriage. Instead she travels to Florence, where family friend Madame Merle introduces her to Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich) and his daughter Pansy. Soon Isabel finds herself falling for the mysterious Osmond. They are engaged to be married within three months, but much unhappiness lies ahead.
Leave it to New Zealand director Jane Campion (The Piano, Angel at My Table) to begin an adaptation of Henry James's great novel (set in the late 1800s) with a group of late-20th-century women from Down Under talking about the importance of a kiss. Like any good film adaptation (and it's a very good one, indeed), this exquisitely framed and mounted Portrait of a Lady is at least as much Campion as it is James. The story of strong-willed, independent-minded Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman, whose skin here is photographed like delicate porcelain) is a tricky one to dramatise, since it's largely about good intentions going awry, roads not taken, misguided decisions made for good reasons. Headstrong American orphan Isabel rejects the proposal of a decent, sensible English suitor, Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant), because she wants to find her own destiny and identity first. Instead, she is seduced by Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich), an effete collector of art (and women) whom one character describes as a "sterile dilettante". How Isabel's life, and the lives of those who love her, are affected by this fateful (but irreversible?) decision is what the bulk of the film is about. Portrait of a Lady is lovely, heartbreaking, and at times terrifying--as only coming face-to-face with the consequences of one's own life-changing decisions can be. --Jim Emerson --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Nicole Kidman is both beautiful and very moving as the gentle naive heroine who aspires to liberty and escaping her condition as a young woman intended to make a good marriage.
John Malkovich is truly the part of the sinister virtually sadistic husband. But he isn't the best, the most touching of all is Martin Donovan as the subdued cousin, slowly consuming from illness and unrequieted love.
The photography is beautiful, and certain sequences are truly magical: Nicole Kidman's strange daydream of John Malkovich's
burning declaration to her "I absolutely love you", (something between a 1920's silent movie and the Dali dream sequence in Hitchcocks' "Spellbound"),
and the deadly romantic Final sequence that starts with a kiss between Nicole Kidman and Viggo Mortensen and ends in slow motion on a beautiful score by Wojciech Kilar (coppola's Dracula)
If you love Period drama and strong deep emotion, this is a beautiful an compelling Movie.
I HAVE to comment on the documentary included. It gives a closer look at the actors and let me tell you, it looked difficult. In preperation for her abusive scenes you see Nicole crying and frustrated and beating herself up. It compelled me almost as much as the film! If you buy this dvd (you must) then make sure to watch this bonus feature, you will realise that the life of an actor is not all it's cracked up to be.
Over all, a compelling and beautiful piece of drama.
She captured luminously the author's main themes: money and love, Puritanism, innocence and survival.
A gift of a fortune by an uncle to a young lady turns into a nightmare: money doesn't buy happiness.
She becomes the target of those who need the money for their own `standing' and the survival of their offspring (daughter).
Another main theme of Henry James is Puritanism: the rejection of the `physical' body. The innocent lady is captured through the discovery of physical contact, here, a French kiss. It overwhelms her completely and she gets entangled in a web of lies, hard plays of domination and subtle intrigues in order to keep her former admirers at bay. She stays blind for the `real' world of true affections until she is confronted with naked and shattering facts.
The performance of the cast (Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey and others) is simply sublime. Rarely have difficult expressions in harsh and deeply pure or malignant emotional confrontations so intensely been interpreted.
A must see.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
to put thos great book in a two hour movie can not work! the casting is pretty much ok buut it all feels pushed and hurried an d one does loose totally the beauty of the book! Read morePublished 3 months ago by Max Naegele
I enjoyed the screen version of the book, even though I am not a big fan of Nicole Kidman. So called 'Ladies' should hang their heads in shame for the way this woman was treated... Read morePublished 8 months ago by maria kelly
This 1996 adaptation of the book tells the story of Isabel Archer [Nicole Kidman], an naive young woman of independent means who refuses marriage in order to discover ‘life’ and... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Throda tzen
Terrible movie. Kidman slips into Oz - Bates miscast and what was the need for the fantasy sequence with the umbrellas. Pretentious nonsense. Stick with the novel.Published 16 months ago by Andrew Norman
Beautifully acted and directed also faithful to the book, though a little more explicit than up tight Henry James. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Pedro