Andrei Girard’s review published on Letterboxd:
Valentine's Week MM 2022
"J’ai senti dans la solitude la liberté dont vous parliez. Mais j’ai aussi senti que vous me manquiez"
This is one of the most stunning-looking films I've ever seen. Every image is immaculately framed, like trying to recreate an actual painting; the inspiration behind a painting. It's like when you see something incredibly alluring and perfectly positioned, so you want to take a photo of it, to capture that fleeting beauty.
A love affair between two women in France in the late 18th century; a painter who falls in love with the person she's trying to paint a portrait of. The romance that arises between these two characters is presented as liberating, vivid and irresistible. On one hand, Marianne is not only an incredibly gifted artist, she's a connaisseuse, a woman of the world; a woman who has had the opportunity to live more freely and who has had very different experiences. On the other hand, Héloïse is a more inexperienced girl who has lived her whole life under strict control, oppressed, and without being able to decide and make her own choices. It was really interesting to see these two women from different realities establish a relationship so strong, in a way that makes them both feel fulfilled and released.
The way this was shot, is simply flawless; so poetically beautiful and seductive. It's like the film is trying to pull you in by seducing you with its breathtaking bright visuals and those magnetic gazes caught on the screen. Containing minimal dialogues and score, the camera manages to capture their eyes in a way that they become very prominent and shining, and meaningful, even in the dark; they convey a lot of emotions and the body language is also important because it's a way of nonverbal communication, therefore, it helps us understand and interpret these characters' emotions.
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu is an exuberant, haunting, deeply affecting, wonderfully acted, visually arresting and brilliant work of art; dazzling from beginning to end.
The scene in which some women sing “fugere non possum” around a fire, is magical to the eyes and, especially to the ears. It reminded me a bit of the song "Cosmogony" by Björk, and it's also reminiscent of one of her other albums, actually one of my all-time favourite albums: Medúlla (2004). Awe-inspiring!
List of picks: