Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★½

Music - and art in general - has this incredible ability to contain a thousand memories, a thousand emotions all within the one piece. Sometimes, those memories and emotions are tangled up with one person. Their ties to a song or a film are indelible and even if you try your hardest, there will always be a part of them in that art for you whenever you experience it. Sometimes the art might even make your memories fonder of the person, or replace the actual memories of the person themselves. This film is the embodiment of that feeling. Portrait never feels like it’s deliberately trying to play with your emotions, and it’s this simplicity and honesty that make its emotional devastation all the more heavy (I cried for the final 30 minutes, regrettably piercing the more quieter moments with my sobs). The three lead performances are fantastic, and it’s impossible to place either Adèle Haenel or Noémie Merlant over the other (the latter has a piercing stare that feels like a mix of Emma Watson and Daisy Ridley). I can’t wait to rewatch and pick up on the already excellently employed foreshadowing to see if it will destroy me even more. Patient, modest and heartfelt.

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