Portrait of a Lady

Bomb Rating: 

After about an hour of this literary vomit, the only point in watching it is to see if it has one.

For all its claims to be literary and artistic, Jane ("The Piano")Campion's "Portrait of a Lady" is still the kind of movie that makes you look at your watch 30 minutes into the film and then scream at everyone within earshot because there's still a good 120 minutes to go.

What is this, like the fifth or sixth film where John Malkovich plays a seductive, aristocratic asshole? Just who came up with the idea that the grizzly-looking Malkovich could be seductive: a circus clown? His seduction and deception, tragically, lies at the heart of this movie. Malkovich plays Gilbert Osmond and, together with Madame Serena Merle (Barbara Hershey), conspires to destroy the willpower and independence of young Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman).

After about an hour of this literary vomit, the only point in watching it is to see if it has one. Does Nicole Kidman finally prove she can act? I guess if looking anguished and constipated constitutes "acting" the answer would be yes.

This only thing that differentiates this film from the deadly dull Merchant-Ivory genre that spawned it is the fact that it focuses on the American expatriate circuit in late 19th century Europe, so American accents are substituted for English ones. In fact, the film was so utterly boring that it actually made me pray to God that Chris Farley would emerge from somewhere and smack into something at a full run. Now that's quite an accomplishment.

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