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"PORTRAIT OF A LADY"
(1996) (Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor None Mild None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
None None None None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Mild Minor Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young American woman in 19th century Europe yearns to experience life and gets more than she expected.
PLOT:
Isabel Archer (NICOLE KIDMAN) is a young American woman who yearns for experiencing life in the 1800's while living with the Touchett's, a wealthy English family. When the patriarch (JOHN GIELGUD) dies, it's learned that her cousin Ralph (MARTIN DONOVAN (II)) convinced his father to leave a large inheritance to her so that she could fulfill her dream. She does so with the help of her American friend Henrietta Stackpole (MARY-LOUISE PARKER), whom the family considers a bohemian. It's during this time that another woman, Madame Serena Merle (BARBARA HERSHEY), introduces Isabel to Gilbert Osmond (JOHN MALKOVICH), the father of a young girl, Pansy (VALENTINA CERVI). Isabel and Osmond are later married and he acquires her wealth through their union. Soon she discovers that Osmond isn't the man she thought she had married and loses her self esteem. After some time she learns the true reasons behind Merle's involvement with their marriage, and in particular, to Osmond. She eventually regains her confidence and goes to the man she's always loved, her cousin Ralph, who's dying of an incurable disease.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of the novel or of Kidman, it's highly unlikely that they'll want to see this one.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For mature sensuality and some brief nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • NICOLE KIDMAN plays a young woman who wants to experience life, but instead strangely marries a rather unsavory fellow and thus is miserable for most of the rest of the film.
  • JOHN MALKOVICH plays a deceitful and unsavory character who takes advantage of Isabel's inexperience in life, and marries her for her money.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
    While this much anticipated film version of the well-known novel is luscious to look at, it's an incredibly boring production. We have to admit that we haven't read the Henry James novel, but we certainly hope that there's more to it than this film brings to the screen. It does look great, as director Jane Campion bathes many of the scenes in the customary golden light to induce feelings of opulence, wealth and a late 19th century setting. It also has the obligatory wonderful costumes and occasional drab dreariness of European weather. And the actors and actresses involved certainly give it their all, but they can't compete against the dull and pace-challenged plot. Now it is possible that Campion (who directed the wonderful movie "The Piano") was aiming to make us feel trapped (in the theater) the way the Isabel must feel (by her unfortunate choice of marriage), but we doubt that this is the case. And Nicole Kidman, whose previous work we've enjoyed, does her best to get an Oscar nomination for the best and most prolific crying on screen. Sorry, but that just doesn't cut it, especially when it's done in so many scenes. And if her character was such a strong willed, independent woman, she never would have allowed herself to get into such a predicament (Why does she marry Osmond when earlier she wanted to explore the world, and looked at marriage as a trap?). Even if she did, she certainly would have gotten out of it faster than she does here and would have done so without being such an emotional "wimp." The rest of the cast is good and Malkovich gives what's becoming his customary "ready to bite like a snake" creepy performance that used to be fascinating to watch, but now has become old hat. Sorry, but we weren't impressed by this boring production. We give it a 2 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    There isn't very much to object to in this production. There are two sexually related scenes, one where Isabelle fantasizes about making out with three men at the same time (with one fondling her clothed breasts) and another where there's a quick black and white glimpse of a bare butt and breasts. There's just a little drinking and smoking, and a few slapping scenes make up the violence that's present. Other than what's listed under Sex/Nudity, there's nothing here that you wouldn't find while watching broadcast TV.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People drink wine at a ball.
  • Wine is consumed with dinner.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Osmond marries Isabelle not for love, but for the money she inherited.
  • Osmond disapproves of his daughter's suitor because he isn't wealthy.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • None, other than what's listed in the other categories.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • One scene where Osmond stands behind Isabelle has just a bit of suspenseful music in it.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 2 uses of "God" and 1 use of "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Isabelle has a fantasy where she and three men are making out on her bed. One passionately kisses her, while another fondles her clothed breasts and the third is between her legs and kissing the inside of her knee. The scene ends when the men dissolve away into thin air.
  • Osmond kisses Madame Merle on the neck.
  • In a quick black and white sequence, Isabelle's bare butt and breasts are seen.
  • SMOKING
  • Ralph occasionally smokes a cigarette.
  • Madame Merle occasionally smokes a cigarette.
  • A former suitor of Isabelle's smokes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Isabelle's uncle dies, but there isn't much grieving.
  • Isabelle and Osmond's marriage turns bad and neither is happy with the other.
  • Ralph gets sicker as the story progresses and dies toward the end and his funeral procession is seen.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Why Isabelle decided to marry Osmond when earlier she saw marriage as a trap and wanted to explore the world before settling down.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Isabelle smacks Ralph after he shows displeasure with her pending marriage to Osmond.
  • Osmond smacks Isabelle's hands when he thinks she's preventing his daughter from getting married to Isabelle's former suitor.
  • Osmond steps on Isabelle's dress, causing her to fall to the floor.
  • Madame Merle slams a door shut several times in frustration.



  • Reviewed November 22, 1996

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