Film Scouts Reviews

"Portrait of a Lady"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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It is the theory of a male critic I know that they put Nicole Kidman in movies like "The Portrait of a Lady" because otherwise no one would go see them at all. Well, then why don't they put Tom Cruise in to make it equally watchable for the ladies? Because Tom can't be seductively evil the way John Malkovich can. It still doesn't make "Portrait" any more understandable, but that is Jane Campion's problem, not the actors. As director of Henry James' classic novel, she gives no true understanding of how the bold, independent Kidman is not someone that would be admired at that time for those qualities especially when she turns down suitors to do some globe trotting. When she miraculously receives a large inheritance, it becomes a curse and her independence is turned against her. Made me want to give her a copy of "Women Who Love Too Much" or "Ten Stupid Things Women Do" and tell her to grow up. But the performance of Barbara Hershey as her duplicitous friend is worth the Oscar nomination it received. It doesn't make the movie worth renting, but it is handy if you have a book report due. Just remember that at the end of the book, she doesn't get to have a fade-out, she returns to Italy.

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