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One of the main reasons why the Portrait of a Lady on Fire was so successful was because of its plot. When the movie was released in 1988, it had a message that has never gone out of style. In fact, it hasn't been out of style for as long as the director, Stanley Kubrick, has been alive.
If you want to know what's going on in the movie, then the first thing you need to understand is that there are five movies in the Series. The first three were all directed by Kubrick and starred his two favorite actors, Heath Ledger and Anthony Hopkins. The last movie in the series, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, was released the following year.
The plots of the other four movies have different starting points. Some have fast-paced action sequences and some have a slower pace. So how does Portrait of a Lady on Fire differ from the other films?
It has the same length as the other films, but it is much more compact than the others. It also has the shortest amount of dialogue in the series. This can be attributed to the fact that the film was actually filmed as a one-hour pilot for television. It was then shortened and broadcast.
The other thing that sets this film apart from the other movies is the long, yet not long enough, credits. They aren't anything that Hollywood didn't already do in the past but now they have to do more with less. It is like a film about a Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but not quite the same movie.
The acting skills of the cast is superb in this film. Many actors that I'd have normally ignored due to their lack of acting talent have landed roles here. Karen Allen, Ewan McGregor, B.B. Swinger and Philip Seymour Hoffman are all well known actors.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is actually part of the Series, but it is the only one that aren't in order of release. There are no other movies set in this time period. In fact, when the series was made the Cold War had just ended. Not only did this movie do a great job of depicting an era that was happening, but it did a good job of capturing its essence and bringing it to life.
As with all of the films in the series, if you haven't seen it you should take the time to do so. For fans of the series, this movie was a hit.