Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★★

Céline Sciamma straight-up gives the middle finger to the male gaze in her most accomplished, impassioned work to date. Portrait of a Lady on Fire marks a departure for Sciamma. It’s her first picture centered on adults, and it’s accordingly the most mature. But don’t get it twisted. While the French 'artiste' is no longer dealing with the ever-rocky rollercoaster of adolescence, this is a Sciamma picture through and through. It remains as emotionally irresistible and surgically honest as everything she’s laid a finger on. With one difference; It just might be her most personal, in what feels like a purge of pent-up desires; A secret love letter of her very own.

It plays even better on a second viewing too. Admittedly on first go I found it a slow burn, not unlike admiring a pretty painting in a stuffy gallery. But this time I found myself so engulfed in the burning passion I could literally smell the smoke. And it goes without saying, it’s bloody gorgeous. Frame it on your wall kind of gorgeous. It's this convergence of artistic apex and intimate expulsion that makes it no surprise that it set the film world ablaze, forcing us all to stop and take notice. And naturally, I’m red-hot with anticipation to see whatever Queen Sciamma gifts us with next. Adèle Haenel, set me on fire.

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