The Portrait of a Lady

Synopsis: Isabel Archer, an American heiress and free thinker travels to Europe to find herself. She tactfully rebuffs the advances of Caspar Goodwood, another American who has followed her to England. Her cousin, Ralph Touchett, wise but sickly becomes a soulmate of sorts for her. She makes an unfortunate alliance with the creepy Madame Merle who leads her to make an even more unfortunate alliance with Gilbert Osmond, a smooth but cold collector of Objets' de art who seduces her with an intense but unattainable sexuality. Isabel marries Osmond only to realize she's just another piece of art for his collection and that Madame Merle and Osmond are lovers who had hatched a diabolical scheme to take Isabel's fortune. Isabel's only comfort is the innocent daughter of Osmond, Pansy, but even that friendship is spoiled when Countess Gemini, Osmond's sister, reveals the child's true parentage. Isabel finally breaks free of Osmond and returns to Ralph's bedside, where, while breathing his last, they bot
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Jane Campion
Production: PolyGram Video
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 13 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
144 min

The best part of a kiss, I think,

is when you see that head coming towards you...

and you know that you're going to get kissed.

That moment just before is so exquisite.

Second Woman:
I'd never felt the touch of another person my age.

The sensation flew through me.

Third Woman:
I love it. I love kissing.

Fourth Woman:
We were addicted to that being entwined with each other,

whether it was really positive or negative.

Fifth Woman:
I get this intense look that says "I'm so mysterious,

"and there's so much more to me than meets the eye to find out..."

Sixth Woman:
I believe in fate,

so that person will find me, or we'll find each other somehow.

SeVenth Woman:
It means finding a mirror, the clearest mirror...

and the most loyal mirror,

so when I love that person, I know that they'll shine that back to me.


There's one thing more, Miss Archer.

You know, if you don't like Lockleigh,

if you think it's too damp or anything of that sort,

you need never go within 50 miles of it.

It's not damp, by the way. I've had the house thoroughly examined,

and it's perfectly safe, but if you shouldn't fancy it,

you needn't dream of living in it.

There's no difficulty about that.

I've plenty of houses.

I thought to let you know.

Some people don't like a moat, you know.

I adore a moat.

I'm very sure you know...

I don't go off easily...

but when I'm touched, it's for life, Miss Archer.

It's for life.


Look, here comes Miss Archer.

No... She's going up to the house.

Second Woman:
So she is. Where is Lord Warburton?

He was with her.

Bunchie, go back. Back.


Shall I sit with you until dinner, Daddy?

I would like that, but Isabel has asked to talk with me.


Come in, my dear.

Do sit down. Hmm?




Uncle, I...

I ought to let you know that...

Lord Warburton has asked me to marry him.


I told you you'd be a success over here.

Americans are highly appreciated...

and you're very beautiful, you know.

Oh, yes, of course. I'm lovely.


I know it seems tasteless and ungrateful...

but I can't marry him.

You didn't find his proposal sufficiently attractive?

It was attractive.

There was a moment when I would have given my little finger to say yes,


I think I have to begin by getting a general impression of life.

Do you see?

And there's a light that has to dawn.

I can't explain it, but...

I know it's there.

I'm not afraid, you know.

He's a very fine man.

He earns 100,000 a year...

about half a dozen houses to live in...

and a seat in Parliament as I have one at my own dinner table.


I hope very much I have no more offers.

They upset me completely.

Isabel, your uncle is quite right.

You certainly cannot go to London without a proper escort.

Well, my friend Henrietta will be with me.

Your friend sounds rather bohemian,

and no doubt she will want to stay at a boarding house.

Ralph has put you down at his club.

With Ralph, you can go anywhere.

Isn't anything proper here?

You're too fond of your own ways, miss.

Yes, I'm very fond of them.

Isabel, I do not expect you to always heed my advice.

But as you have neither mother nor father,

I do expect you to listen to it.

Hup, hup, hup.

Shall I love your reporter friend or hate her?

Whichever you do will matter little to Henrietta.

She doesn't care a straw what men think of her.

- Will she interview me?

- You're not important enough.


- So sad.

- Morbid, isn't it?


When I wrote to you from Liverpool,

I said I had something in particular to tell you.

You haven't asked me what it is yet.

Is it because you suspected?

Mmm... Suspected what?

What have you to tell me?

What I have to tell you is about your American admirer.

Mr Goodwood has come over on the steamer with me.


You say that right.

He's come after you.

Did he tell you so?


He told me... nothing.

- But I spoke of you a great deal.

- I'm sorry you did that.

Oh, no. It was a pleasure to me. I like the way he listened.

He was so quiet,

so intense.

He drank it all in.

He thinks too well of me already.

He oughtn't be encouraged.

He's dying for a little encouragement.


I can see his face now.

And his look while we talked.

I... I've never seen an ugly man look so handsome.

He's very simple-minded...

and he's not so ugly.

Does your cousin go around all day with his hands in his pockets?

What does he do for a living?

He's terribly ill. He's quite unfit for work.

Don't you believe it.

I work when I'm sick.

I should like to show him up. He'd make a beautiful specimen.

Daddy and I lived here when he worked at the bank.

We don't use it now.

I love this time of day, just as it gets dark.

Don't you?

- Ralph?

- Huh?

- May I light a cigarette?

- You may do what you please,

as long as you'll amuse me.

What had you in mind when you refused Warburton?

I have his leave to let you know he has told me.


Did he ask you to talk to me?

No, not that. He...

told me because he couldn't help it.

We're old friends, and he was very heavy-hearted.

What had I in mind when I refused him?

What logic dictated so remarkable an act?

Why do you call it remarkable?

As a man, Warburton is hardly at fault.

I refused him because he was too perfect, then.


If you've really given Warburton his final answer, I'm rather glad.

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Laura Jones

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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