The Portrait of a Lady | EW.com

video

The Portrait of a Lady The Portrait of a Lady — remember it from school? — is Henry James' masterwork. It is a story of moral complexities centering on...The Portrait of a LadyDrama The Portrait of a Lady — remember it from school? — is Henry James' masterwork. It is a story of moral complexities centering on...1997-05-09Christian BaleBarbara HersheyViggo MortensenMary-Louise ParkerChristian Bale, Barbara Hershey, Viggo Mortensen, Mary-Louise Parker
C+

The Portrait of a Lady

Genre: Drama; Starring: Martin Donovan (Actor), Barbara Hershey, Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Christian Bale, Barbara Hershey, Viggo Mortensen, Mary-Louise Parker; Director: Jane Campion; Status: In Season

The Portrait of a Lady — remember it from school? — is Henry James’ masterwork. It is a story of moral complexities centering on one of the first truly modern literary heroines: Isabel Archer, an American in Europe who asserts her freedom but ends up caged in a marriage to a manipulator.

In last year’s The Portrait of a Lady (1996), however, director Jane Campion (The Piano) gives us a surfeit of shading, including the dark kind that looks mysterious on movie screens but like mud on TV. She also provides great costumes, odd flights into surrealism, sadistic histrionics (care of John Malkovich), and in Nicole Kidman an Isabel who battles pride and despair. But for all these flourishes, this is less a portrait of a lady than of a self-important director. We await a better likeness. C+

More from Our Partners