The Portrait of a Lady
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Another major difference between the two films is how the part of Gilbert Osmond was played. I had a little difficulty watching John Malkovich in the Campion version because I thought he played it too closely to his brilliant Valmont character in "Dangerous Liaisons," which actually spoiled the fun. You knew immediately where this character was going. The actor in the BBC version, I thought, played the role with perfect pitch, slowly revealing Osmond's deviousness.
As for Cousin Ralph, both Richard Chamberlain (BBC version) and Martin Donovan (Campion version) did a wonderful job with their roles. You couldn't wait for either one of them to reappear on the screen.
All in all, both film versions have something to offer and I recommend each as a complement to the other.
The opening third of the novel has often been criticized as being slow; while it sets up the characters well, the true story doesn't gain momentum until Isabel meets Madame Merle and goes to Florence. The first hour is a bit slow, (even though I don't really have a problem with the opening of the novel) and it took me a while to warm up to Suzanne Neve as Isabel. I found Neve to be the strongest after Isabel marries Gilbert Osmond and she matures. I also had to think of this production as a stage play because the directing style reflects that: characters have their backs turned to the person they're addressing, the acting style is overemphatic but by the second hour, I got over the bad American accents and found myself enjoying it immensely.
It's interesting to note that both filmed versions of "Portrait" have never told the story to the very last pages. I think a lot of people have problems with Isabel's final decision, and it would bring down the viewers, as it has many readers. We want Isabel to have much more hopeful future than James gave to her.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Item returned. Not my kingof movie. Frankly boring. Just watched a portion of it and turned it off. Item returnedPublished 2 months ago by NanAnn
not bad quality consider it is an old TV series. Richard Chamberlin is great!Published 5 months ago by shao
I'm very pleased. I'm 30 & I just read the book and I wanted to really know absolutely everything it was conveying so I checked out some writings on the book & then I thought maybe... Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Cyndi Smith
I had wanted to see this because it is one of my favorite books and BBC usually does a good job. This was, however, a big disappointment. It looked like a play that was filmed. Read morePublished on March 23, 2009 by A. Kozuch
The acting was stunted and not smooth. I have to admit I did not watch the entire production - I could not stand it.Published on March 13, 2008 by listener