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The Portrait of a Lady (1996)



Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 7,084

My Rating

Movie Info

Jane Campion directed this expressive adaptation of the classic novel 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. When Isabel turns down a proposal of marriage from the wealthy Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant) because she does not love him, her cousin Ralph


Art House & International, Drama

Laura Jones

Sep 14, 1999

PolyGram Video

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All Critics (51) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (16) | DVD (3)

An easy thing to dislike, I suppose, and even easier to find it absolutely fascinating.

August 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

In all, Jane Campion has pulled off a neat trick here -- she's made a film that makes Henry James' work seem positively giddy.

September 22, 2007 Full Review Source:

A handsome production, but the ass, she doth ache.

May 13, 2007
Flipside Movie Emporium

Not only slow but uninvolving.

January 8, 2005 Full Review Source:

A sophisticated and elegant period piece with the right touch of feminist flourishes to elevate this compelling fable

May 27, 2003

So bold and well-orchestrated that you sometimes want to cheer the vividness of a single shot, the humor of a fleeting detail.

January 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

Presents a bold and bewitching screen adaptation of the novel by Henry James.

August 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for The Portrait of a Lady

"The Portrait of a Lady" starts with Isabel Archer(Nicole Kidman) rejecting the proposal of the super wealthy Lord Warburton(Richard E. Grant). Next, it is Caspar Goodwood(Viggo Mortensen) who was reinserted into her path by Isabelle's supposed friend Henrietta(Mary-Louise Parker) only to be turned down. Seeing Isabelle's options disappear and fearing for her future, her cousin Ralph(Martin Donovan) comes up with an alternate plan that involves his dying father(John Gielgud).

"The Portrait of a Lady" is a beautifully rendered period piece. So, it might come as a surprise that director Jane Campion gets lost not so much in the details but in its retrograde politics and customs, using a modern day prologue to reinforce her questioning the choices that women make. On a different tact, Campion somehow manages to restrain her eclectic cast in order to not outshine the movie's supposed star and manages to only bring them down to Kidman's unresponsive level, and sucking some of the oxygen out of the room in the bargain.

Speaking of the eclectic cast, Mary-Louise Parker and John Malkovich(who has somehow never played Lenin) show up again in the "Red" films while Parker and Martin Donovan star again together in "Pipe Dream" and appearing together in the televsion series "Weeds."
May 7, 2014
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

December 12, 2007
Leo L

Super Reviewer

Film not so good but Malkovich nailed it!
December 20, 2006
Linda K. T.

Super Reviewer

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