The Portrait of a Lady movie poster
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The Portrait of a Lady movie poster

The Portrait of a Lady - Movie Synopsis & Plot

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The much-anticipated adaptation of the classic Henry James novel introduces the boldly independent heroine, Isabel Archer (NICOLE KIDMAN), just as she rejects a most lucrative marriage proposal in favor of her hunger to experience the world. The film is set against the grand European background of splendid wealth and Old-World sensibilities, and layered with contemporary resonance.

Isabel's defiant refusal stuns her suitor, as well as the relative with whom she is staying in England. However, an admiring male cousin, Ralph Touchett (MARTIN DONOVAN), secretly lends his support to Isabel's daring pursuit by convincing his dying father to leave her a generous share of his fortune. Yet Isabel's large inheritance does not bring her the freedom she so desires. Her headstrong innocence proves no match against the manipulations of a duplicitous friend, Madame Merle (BARBARA HERSHEY), who leads Isabel into an unfortunate marriage to a self-serving and devious dilettante, Gilbert Osmond (JOHN MALKOVICH).

Isabel suffers gravely as a result of her impulsive choice that ends in disaster. But after the dark truth behind Madame Merle and Osmond's web of deception and betrayal is revealed, Isabel awakens to a curious freedom. In emerging from the darkness of her folly, Isabel discovers her one true love in an epiphany that sends her forth in hopeful triumph, stronger and more selfless than she had ever imagined.

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