Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★

TIFF 2019 film #2

There were so many times when I loved this film.

I loved when writer / director Céline Sciamma touched on Bergman’s visual flourishes. I loved when she stepped into the surreal at a village festival. I even loved when she channeled a From Here To Eternity beach love scene. These masterful touches, and the brilliant performances would have made this a gem for me … if she had just left it at that.

There’s a line in the film where one of our leads asks the other ‘when is the painting finished’, the other replies ‘when you stop’.

That’s my main criticism of the film. Sciamma just doesn’t know when to stop. She piles on gimmicks and eschews the subtle glances of the beginning of the film. She turns what could have been a masterpiece into a Harlequin romance dotted with oh so clever self referential callbacks and with an ending as bad as the worst Spielbergs.

Most love the worst Spielberg’s, and I’m not surprised at how many love this so.

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