Maggie Sheridan (Helen Mirren), a hard-living self-destructive wild child of the sixties and once one of the most famous blues voices of her generation, is taken in by Sir Charles Stafford (Ian Cuthbertson) and his son Sebastian (Iain Glen) after a failed suicide attempt. When Sir Charles is brutally murdered and a valuable sixteenth century painting is stolen, Sebastian and Maggie find themselves suspects in the case. Believing a violent creditor lies behind the crime and that Sebastian's life is now in danger, Maggie enters the murky underworld of the illegal art trade to help clear their names.
Evoking the sexiness of the sixties, the fickleness of fame, and the exhilaration of an urgent, new mission in life, Emmy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren creates an unforgettable new character in Painted Lady.
Mirren becomes Maggie Sheridan, a modern day survivor of too many drugs, lovers, and good times. The most famous blues voice of her generation, she can still rasp out a heartfelt lyric. But her last hit was on an LP, and most of her fans assume she's dead - which she is, spiritually, Maggie determines to short-circuit the police and do some investigating of her own.
Mirren previously perfected the obsessive crime fighter persona as DCI Jane Tennison in five celebrated series of Prime Suspect on Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! As Maggie, she shows how a burned-out pop performer draws on forgotten reserves of creativity to pull off a truly astonishing transformation - and Mirren makes it completely convincing.
The story opens with Maggie, still drying out, ten years after a failed suicide attempt. She now lives in the guest house of Sir Charles' crumbling Irish estate.
One summer evening, Sir Charles is gunned down during an art heist at his mansion. Maggie believes that a stolen painting holds the key to Sir Charles' death and sets about tracking it down. This takes her into the glamorous but murky art world, where her sister (Lesley Manville) and brother-in-law (Michael Maloney) serve as her expert advisors, and a famous art dealer (Franco Nero) serves as a prospective love interest and guide into the dangerous netherworld of black-market masterpieces.
Meanwhile, Sebastian begins to piece together his dead father's mysterious past, and uncovers a terrible secret with horrific consequences.
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