Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★

“Don’t regret. Remember.”

Passionately autenthic and sincerely modest, Sciamma’s latest is truly a love letter to lesbian love and forbidden love.

It may start off slow, only for that flame to get fanned on when a pivotal plot moment happens later on towards the end of the first act, but it formulates very naturally, much like the tender yearning of love’s manifestation in humans.

It builds up slowly, releasing all this suppressed emotion as the film goes by and as the plot starts to move on, leading the two leads to exhibit a desire for each other as they grow closer in their correspondence.

In that manifestation of the film’s pace, the latent emotion of the film prallels that of a real love, naturally forming from closed walls to an open hallway. In that, it’s authentically real.

The final scene of the film is haunting and just lingers on in memory, with the visceral emotion it holds of heartbreak and longing.

The scene just bursts out with emotion, unlike the subtlety of emotion that’s passively present throughout the rest of the film.

It really is quite an exquisite film, mainly for two reasons that make it so thrivigly poignant:

1) It is directed, by Sciamma, as a precise tale of forbidden love that so eloquently develops naturally in a way where it feels tangible.

2) The two performances from Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel (which are quite stellar at displaying the deterrents of suppressed emotions for one another) express this unsaid, untapped chemistry between the two that would go on to bloom in each other naturally.

It’s an irrestibly graceful tale of a forbidden lesbian love - a rebellion against the restraints life can bring to the love we feel and an ode to love’s manifestation in nature.

(BFI London Film Festival - #16)

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