Jane Campion is a brilliant director who can direct a film and convey much with a minimum of language and action. Her film, "The Piano" is a testament to that innate talent. This would lead one to believe that directing an adaptation of a Henry James novel would be a natural segue for her.
While this is a lush and beautiful period piece, the problem with it is that it is somewhat dull. Despite stellar performances by Barbara Hershey and the supporting cast, the main star, Nicole Kidman, is out of her league, though she is a luminous beauty and has some acting ability. The problem is that her performance lacks the presence or depth necessary to transcend the material and make this a truly interesting film. She just is not good enough an actress to be able to carry this type of storyline and engage the viewer in the lead role of wealthy expatriate, Isabel Archer.
Moreover, while John Malkovich gives a wonderful performance as the malevolent Gilbert Osmond, he is decidedly miscast as he is simply not charismatic enough to make it believable that Isabel Archer would throw caution to the wind over such an unattractive and, decidedly, sinister man. It is unfortunate, as the film is an otherwise fairly faithful adaptation of Henry James' complex novel of the same name. It could have been a contender.