The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Directed by Jane Campion (‘The Piano’ (1993)), ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ is an adaptation of Henry James’s classic novel of the same name. It tells the story of a beautiful, free-thinking and intelligent young woman, Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) who arrives to England from the US with her aunt, Mrs. Touchett, to “see and explore the world”. While on her quest, Miss Archer rejects promising marriage proposals coming from a wealthy American tradesman, Caspar Goodwood (Viggo Mortensen), and an immensely rich heir, Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant). Miss Archer takes these decisions because she is devoted to the ideals of personal freedom and a ceaseless pursuit of knowledge.Through the help of her faithful, but fragile cousin, Ralph (Martin Donovan), Isabel is made rich, and is then free to pursue her dreams of independence. However, when Isabel strikes up friendship with amiable and cultured Madame Merle (Barbara Hershey), she is far from suspecting that this acquaintance will lead to her unhappy marriage to an elusive, middle-aged art collector, Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich).
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‘Insidious’, directed by James Wan (‘Saw’ (2004), ‘Dead Silence’ (2007)), is one of those few psychological horror films that are genuinely scary without sliding into ridiculousness or downright dullness, and that also provides for a very good entertainment in terms of fascinating subject matter, gripping plot, good acting and great sound effects. In ‘Insidious’ the plot centres on the Lambert family, who recently moved into their new house. After Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins), a small boy, has a falling accident in the attic, and mysteriously slips into a coma, strange things start to happen in the Lambert family’s new house. When Dalton’s mother, Renai and father, Josh (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) start to investigate the causes and nature of strange apparitions and noises, they soon discover that their child’s endless sleep has more to do with the house’s haunting state than they have ever dared to guess.
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Black Swan (2010)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky (‘Requiem for a Dream’ (2000)), ‘Black Swan’ is an ambitious psychological horror film promising to submerge the viewer into the world of classical ballet, game of sexual seduction and pure psychological delirium, but has it delivered?
In ‘Black Swan’, Natalie Portman plays Nina, a ballet dancer in a respected dance company headed by Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). Leroy is to stage a new production of ‘Swan Lake’, and chooses Nina as his Swan Queen. Although Leroy is sure that Nina can dance the beautiful, fragile and innocent White Swan, he is not convinced that she can dance the Black Swan, who is a confident, strong, seductive and lustful ‘twin’ of the White Swan. There is also another ballerina in the company, named Lily (Mila Kunis), who seems to fit the Black Swan image perfectly. She is more in-tune with her sensual nature and is more relaxed on stage than Nina. There is also Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), a retiring ballerina, who is both the source of Nina’s inspiration and a warning for her. As Nina’s debut in ‘Swan Lake’ approaches, Nina’s domineering mother (Barbara Hershey) exert more and more pressure on her, and Nina’s acquaintance with Lily produces some unexpected results, leading to Nina’s rapid physical and psychological breakdown/metamorphosis.
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