The Portrait of a Lady

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director: Jane Campion
Writer: Laura Jones
Director of Photography: Stuart Dryburgh
Editor: Veronika Jenet
Music: Wojiech Kilar
Production Designer: Janet Patterson
Producers: Monty Montgomery and Steve Golin
Gramercy; PG-13; 144 minutes
Release: 12/96
Cast: Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Donovan, Shelley Winters, Richard E. Grant, Shelley Duvall, Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen, Valentina Cervi and John Gielgud
Based on the novel by Henry James

The Portrait of a Lady
Juergen Teller/Gramercy
The Portrait of a Lady is a daring adaptation that reimagines the original James novel with a contemporary point of view. Kidman makes a perfect Isabel Archer, an independent American woman who was orphaned as a child and sent abroad to live with wealthy European relatives. Hungry for new, exhilarating experiences, Archer turns down marriage proposals from a number of well-heeled gentlemen. One of the snubbed suitors, her cousin Ralph Touchett (Donovan), convinces his father to bequeath Isabel a fortune so that she can realize her dream. As a rich woman, Isabel travels to Italy and is lured into a disastrous relationship by the duplicitous Serena Merle (Hershey). When Serena introduces Isabel to Gilbert Osmond (Malkovich), Isabel is enchanted by his exquisitely precious world of art and high-flown ideas. She realizes too late that she has purchased with her willfulness the gilded cage she once set out to avoid. Campion once again explores a woman's soul and emotional core.