The beauty of Jane Campion's film lies not in what is said, but what is not said. The understated is beautifully captured in this stunning period piece. Louise Keller. Throughout Portrait there is a nagging sensation that makes one want to ask, "But where is all this going? Rob Blackwelder. The point of this imagery is not that Isabel has relapsed into the figure of the Gothic heroine, but that that figure in part informs her sense of self.
David Kelly. As much as director Jane Campion claims to love Henry James' novel Portrait of a Lady, her movie of it is Jane Eyre all over again, a romantic horror story. Barbara Shulgasser. The film wraps with triumphantly, if obliquely, in a gothically bleak snowy England after the false sunshine of Italy. The film's beautiful cinematography and locations are complimented by a hauntingly romantic score. Laura Clifford. Top Box Office. More Top Movies Trailers.
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The Portrait of a Lady
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by Henry James
Isabel Archer Nicole Kidman is a young American woman who, after the death of her parents, has been sent to England to visit relatives. While her family's tragedy has left her penniless, Isabel's beauty has earned her the attentions of a number of eligible men. Touchett and Madame Merle; Merle introduces Isabel to a man named Gilbert Osmond, a man of no social standing or wealth, but whom Merle describes as one of the finest gentlemen in Europe, wholly devoted to art and aesthetics.
Osmond's daughter Pansy is being brought up in a convent; his wife is dead. In secret, Osmond and Merle have a mysterious relationship; Merle is attempting to manipulate Isabel into marrying Osmond so that he will have access to her fortune. Osmond is pleased to marry Isabel, not only for her money, but also because she makes a fine addition to his collection of art objects.
Everyone in Isabel's world disapproves of Osmond, especially Ralph, but Isabel chooses to marry him anyway. She has a child the year after they are married, but the boy dies six months after he is born. Three years into their marriage, Isabel and Osmond have come to despise one another; they live with Pansy in a palazzo in Rome, where Osmond treats Isabel as barely a member of the family: to him, she is a social hostess and a source of wealth, and he is annoyed by her independence and her insistence on having her own opinions.
Isabel chafes against Osmond's arrogance, his selfishness, and his sinister desire to crush her individuality, but she does not consider leaving him.
For all her commitment to her independence, Isabel is also committed to her social duty, and when she married Osmond, she did so with the intention of transforming herself into a good wife. A young American art collector who lives in Paris, Edward Rosier, comes to Rome and falls in love with Pansy; Pansy returns his feelings. But Osmond is insistent that Pansy should marry a nobleman, and he says that Rosier is neither rich nor highborn enough. Matters grow complicated when Lord Warburton arrives on the scene and begins to court Pansy.
Warburton is still in love with Isabel and wants to marry Pansy solely to get closer to her. But Osmond desperately wants to see Pansy married to Warburton. Isabel is torn about whether to fulfill her duty to her husband and help him arrange the match between Warburton and Pansy, or to fulfill the impulse of her conscience and discourage Warburton, while helping Pansy find a way to marry Rosier.
The Portrait of a Lady Summary
At a ball one night, Isabel shows Warburton the dejected-looking Rosier and explains that this is the man who is in love with Pansy. Guiltily, Warburton admits that he is not in love with Pansy; he quietly arranges to leave Rome. Osmond is furious with Isabel, convinced that she is plotting intentionally to humiliate him. Madame Merle is also furious with her, confronting her with shocking impropriety and demanding brazenly to know what she did to Warburton.
Isabel has realized that there is something mysterious about Madame Merle's relationship with her husband; now, she suddenly realizes that Merle is his lover. At this time, Ralph is rapidly deteriorating, and Isabel receives word that he is dying. Tech culture.
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