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critics consensus

Beautiful, indulgently heady, and pretentious, The Portrait of a Lady paints Campion's directorial shortcomings in too bright a light. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Ms. Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) isn't afraid to challenge societal norms. Impressed by her free spirit, her kindhearted cousin writes her into his fatally ill father's will. Suddenly rich and independent, Isabelle ventures into the world, along the way befriending a cynical intellectual (Barbara Hershey) and romancing an art enthusiast (John Malkovich). However, the advantage of her affluence is called into question when she realizes the extent to which her money colors her relationships.

Cast & Crew

Nicole Kidman
Isabel Archer
John Malkovich
Gilbert Osmond
Barbara Hershey
Madame Serena Merle
Mary-Louise Parker
Henrietta Stackpole
Shelley Winters
Mrs. Touchett
Shelley Duvall
Countess Gemini
Laura Jones
Screenwriter
Wojciech Kilar
Original Music
Stuart Dryburgh
Cinematographer
Janet Patterson
Production Design
Mark Raggett
Art Direction
Bruno Cesari
Set Decoration
Janet Patterson
Costume Designer
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Critic Reviews for The Portrait of a Lady

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (39)

  • This claustrophobic Portrait of a Lady is the kind of failure only a very gifted filmmaker could make: like it or not, it haunts you.

    December 7, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Portrait feels like an elegant party, full of attractive people, beautiful finery and tremendous music (from Wojiech Kilar), yet no excitement. And no matter how many times you revisit the place, it never gets better.

    October 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • This is a film that appeals to the head far more than to the heart, making for a portrait that seems somewhat less than complete.

    October 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Ten years on, the drama is still too slow but the film is far more watchable in the comfort of one's home with the pause button at the ready.

    October 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Director Jane Campion not only alludes to the contemporary resonance of this hundred-year-old tale, but with this bold stamp she lays claim to the story that follows as wholly her own.

    October 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Jane Campion and screenwriter Laura Jones have... produced an adaptation as cinematically intelligent as it is faithful to the original.

    October 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Portrait of a Lady

  • May 07, 2014
    "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."
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 20, 2006
    Film not so good but Malkovich nailed it!
    Linda K Super Reviewer

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