I just finished watching the film Portrait of a Lady… All I can say is, wow. It was one of the most unsatisfying endings to a film that I have seen in while.
Spoiler alert… (warning: I’d suggest not reading any further if you haven’t seen the film yet and don’t want to know the ending… I lament a bit more about it below)
For those that have seen it, I’ll refresh your memory of the ending to a PORTRAIT OF A LADY: Isabel chooses to return to Rome to her deranged husband Osmond and live out the consequences of her marriage. This is significant because he had pretty much implied previously that he intends to kill her if she returns.
It’s a pretty heavy handed ending particularly as towards the end of the film we (again, spoiler alert) a) know the extent of Osmond’s true character as manipulative beyond measure and b) see that Isabel has just been offered a clear way out of the situation by her first suitor who proposes they run away.
I also found it interesting that other authors have interpreted the ending of the original book as a ‘foregone conclusion’. To those that have seen the film or read the book, do you agree? I’d be curious to know what you thought.
As a plot device I begrudgingly admit it probably worked well. In that by not giving the audience/reader the ending they want, you do empathise with the character’s situation even more, so it’s all the more harrowing.