6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not even a near miss,
This review is from: Portrait Of A Lady (Special Edition) (DVD)
The casting of Malkovitch as Gilbert Osmond is a serious mistake, as is his resorting to physical violence towards Isabel. Malkovitch is simply the wrong type of actor - Gilbert is, as he says "convention itself." Yet the actor, as usual, looks like an unmade bed - he also wear his "watch out I'm a psychopath" visage used in such "chewing the scenery" performances as he gave in "Con Air" and "In The Line of Fire". Gilbert is the Adrian Brody type - suave, elegant, vain. Gilbert would never lower himself to hit Isabel - his tactics are more subtle and are untranslatable into a film. James' works are not cinematic - he plumbs the depths of his characters - the action occurs in the character's consciousness. The greatest chapter in the novel has Isabel ruminating about her marriage in front of a fireplace. Also, I'm not at all certain why Campion, a one trick pony if there ever was one, decided to give Kidman a fright wig - it is certainly not in the style a 19th century woman would wear. If you haven't read the book you may enjoy the film - though I cannot see how you would. If you have read the book you could not enjoy the film. Henry James must never be confused with John Grisham or Stephen King, both of whose prose is so wretched that it HAS to appear better on the screen. This movie is a total washout.
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Initial post: Sep 23, 2013 1:24:51 PM PDT
Loved the book and loved the film. As you yourself say...James' work is not cinematic. So I have to tip my hat to ANY director/screenwriter who gives their interpretation of his work. You have to be pretty sharp to read and understand James, much less adapt him for the screen. I think they brought this to the masses with much of the complexity still intact...it certainly isn't dumbed down for the John Grisham set. And this is very much a MOVIE...and not just another decorous BBC adaptation. Fine acting all around (except for Malkovitch, I agree with you), and Campions's compositions are quite beautiful....they impressed me on the big screen, and I find myself impressed again after watching the Blu-ray. There is much to admire here...flawed though it is. "Washout" seems unduly harsh. Have you seen the documentary that comes with the film? Have a look...it gives some insight into Campion's approach, and if nothing else is a throughly warts-and-all expose on how draining this experience was for the actors.
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