Search - Masterpiece Theatre - Painted Lady (1997) on DVD

Masterpiece Theatre - Painted Lady (1997)
Masterpiece Theatre - Painted Lady
Actor: Helen Mirren; Iain Glen; Franco Nero; Michael Maloney; Lesley Manville; Iain Cuthbertson; Barry Barnes; Michael Liebman; John Kavanagh; Sabina Michael; Lorelei King; Angus Wright; Grace Boyle; Elizabeth Steele; Don Paul (III); John Cormack; Gabriel Thomso
Director: Julian Jarrold
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2004     3hr 24min

Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect, The Clearing) stars in this compelling murder-mystery set amid the murky underworld of illegal art trade. Maggie Sheridan (Mirren), once one of the most famous blues voices of her generation, ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Helen Mirren; Iain Glen; Franco Nero; Michael Maloney; Lesley Manville; Iain Cuthbertson; Barry Barnes; Michael Liebman; John Kavanagh; Sabina Michael; Lorelei King; Angus Wright; Grace Boyle; Elizabeth Steele; Don Paul (III); John Cormack; Gabriel Thomso
Director: Julian Jarrold
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Granada Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/28/2004
Original Release Date: 04/26/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 04/26/1998
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 3hr 24min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The best mystery i have seen in years!!!
william m. cheseldine | rehoboth beach, delaware | 09/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"if you like helen mirren you will love this movie, since it was expressly written for her by allan cubitt. there are art forgeries and theft, there is great music, gay characters and situations, and a good sampling of gangsters and the chaos they bring upon a group of people who are attempting for the first time to live an "ordinary, quiet life". And there is murder and deep personal loss. it shows that in even well meaning situations the price for breathing is very high indeed. this is what every mystery writer should aspire to, and again our british cousins show us how it is done."
GEORGE RANNIE | DENVER, COLORADO United States | 09/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I totally agree with the previous reviewer that this is one INTENSE murder/mystery. This film involves and is about something, I feel, little is known about--the under ground "art world". Helen Mirren proves once again that she is a hell of an actress. In fact everyone involved in this film is GREAT! The script, direction, plot, etc are fantastic!
I had to view the film twice to fully decipher the mystery and the "goings on"! It kept me on the edge of my seat with its unexpected plot twists and tensions!
If you are into intense contemporary murder/mysteries (it ain't Agatha Christi--not that there is anything wrong with that!) buy this DVD.
Helen Mirren & Masterpiece Theatre at its best
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 10/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The nicest part of owning the DVD version of a Masterpiece Theatre mini-series is that the entire series is edited to play like a continuous 3.5 hour feature length film and you can watch the entire series in one night. The Painted Lady is one of the more innovative, compelling and consistently intriguing English mysteries to be produced by the Masterpiece set. Though this addition to the Masterpiece Theatre collection will appeal to devotees of the series, there are enough original elements here to win the kinds of viewers who may be turned off by some of the stuffier BBC productions. This one, while staid enough to keep the loyalists, is also hip enough to win a new legion of followers.

Like many English mysteries this one examines not crime so much as social relationships and this glimpse into the mysteries of British class and character is one of the most interesting that I've seen. Helen Mirren plays "Maggie Sheridan", a British Isles pop star whose bluesy-rock voice tinged with just the right amount of Celtic grandeur made her one of the biggest stars of the sixties and early seventies but due to a combination of hard-living and bad relationship choices she went from star to down and outer virtually overnight. Lucky for her, longtime family friend Sir Charles Stafford and his son Sebastian allowed her to crash in a cottage on their family estate when she hit rock bottom and its there that she has been sitting out the last two decades (the 80's & 90's) of her life. When we first see Maggie she seems to be wearing the same hairstyle and clothes she probably wore twenty years earlier and she just seems to be driftin' from one day to the next in a kind of drug & alcohol induced has-been haze livin' a care free & rent free life with her musician boyfriend. But then something wakes her up.

One night art thieves break into the main house and Sir Charles Stafford is murdered while trying to prevent them from stealing the one treasure that is sacred to him: the portrait of his dead wife. Sir Charles' death disgusts Maggie; it stirs her out of her nostalgic haze and opens her eyes to contemporary realities. When the police fail to catch the thieves Maggie decides to take matters into her own hands. Though this miniseries is ostensibly about Maggie's attempt to hunt down a murderer the real excitement is in watching Maggie transform her life. She goes from looking and acting like a cultural refugee held captive by the rememberance of things past into an international mover and shaker who is as intrigued with her own untapped potentials and newly discovered freedom as we are. If she is to succesfully infiltrate the international art community and catch Sir Charles's killer Maggie must not only learn about art history and the ins and outs of the art market but she must don an entirely new persona (as an eastern European countess no less). Maggie not only takes to her new identity but she really seems to come to life in this new role she's fashioned for herself; it's as if she has finally found a role that gives her life meaning, purpose, and direction and she actually enjoys playing it. Once "Maggie" the folkie drop-out becomes "Magdelena" the art dealer/detective there is no limit to what she is capable of. Mirren accomplishes the near impossible task of making this transformation seem believable. She does such a good job at playing both Maggie/Magdalena that we never really question it but only marvel at the fact that some people can and do change.

Maggie's transformation into Magdelena occurs against an ever-changing backdrop of social settings not one of which seems to shake the versatile Maggie/Magdelena who seems to inherently know how to act in all situations. Through her eyes we get a glimpse of every imaginable social space and every imaginable social type. Only Helen Mirren could make it seem so natural to be so many different things to so many different people. When Maggie is living on the estate we see her relate to her musician boyfriend in one way and to Sir Charles in another, when she goes to London we see her relate with her gentrified bourgeois sister in one way and her sister's husband in another, and when we see her in New York City we see her relate with international art connoisseur Robert Tassi (played by Franco Neri) in one way and in quite another way with ex-flame Eddie Mullen (played by Roland Gift) . And every performance is seamless. Mirren makes it seem like her character is not conflicted in the least but is simply a facinating myriad-minded individual who inhabits the world in her own way.

Maggie/Magdelena's most fascinating attribute may just be her ability to see through the haze of class that seems to blind everyone else. English mysteries are almost always about the license and liberties of the upper crust and the envy of those less fortunate and this series is no exception. The Masterpiece Theatre lens loves to gaze upon impossibly posh estates and their impossibly posh inhabitants as they go about their business within rooms littered with historical paintings and artifacts but that lens is also very curious and it loves to have a look in to the musty old closets and attics and graveyards as well. The secrets contained within those dark spaces show that the markers of social class are invaribaly superficial and that two things are always certain: 1) that the life of the cultured is never as far removed from the life of the streets as the cultured would like to think, and, 2) that the social markers of wealth and cultivation and high living are also invariably markers of moral and ethical compromise and decay. Maggie/Magdelena is fascinating and she succeeds magnificently precisely because she is comfortable with both of these truths which would unnerve most others.

During Maggie/Magdelena's investigation of Sir Charles' murder she must negotiate the art world and the underworld and ultimately she finds that they are each populated by equally seedy types. Occupying a middle ground between these two extremes is the gentrified bourgeois who like to imagine that they are part of an incorruptible majority, but the landed gentry (the middle-aged professionals) just come off as self-deluding hypocrits in this clever mystery which is, among other things, a critique of the habits and practices of each echelon of the social world. If Maggie/Magdelena fares better than most by stories end its because she knows the world better than most as a result of her having inhabited so many roles and seen the world from so many different angles. So although the plot of this film is rather mandarin (the "Sebastian" sub or co-plot intrigues and frustrates in equal measures; and the critique of the aristocracy and its self-serving alliances may seem overwrought) its really only a minor distraction in an otherwise immensely enjoyable and remarkably well conceived study of character and class.

This is a Masterpiece Theatre that is hip to contemporary social realites and thus current & relevant. Plus Helen Mirren has never given a more versatile and more interesting performance. Her character defies the idea that a person's character is defined by class and her character defies the idea that a person must have only one character. And this last point is what really lingers in your mind long after you've put the DVD back in its case and the case back on its shelf.

Mirren commands the screen!
Snowbrocade | Santa Barbara, CA | 05/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Helen Mirren routinely devastates her audience with her amazing screen presence, glamour and talent. In this elaborate mystery she goes undercover and penetrates the world of international art thievery. Mirren more than once is filmed in reference to a renowned painting--something you would not expect on Masterpiece theatre but rather in an art film.

The story is suspenseful and the twists are very well done. If I have any critique, I would suggest trimming about 20 minutes out and thereby not drawing out the suspense quite so far. This two part series is 208 minutes and would have had a little more edge if it had been slighly briefer. But this is just quibbling. This is a quality television movie and certainly worth seeing."