Leesah Sea’s review published on Letterboxd:
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE is such a wonderfully powerful and emotive film. The performances are exceptional, the cinematography is beautiful, the music is so emotive, and the screenplay is perfect. Every shot, every frame, every line spoken, every movement by the characters - they all just feel right. And the way this movie makes YOU, the audience, feel...come on, this is cinema at it's best. Thank you, Céline Sciamma!!!
The film opens with the introduction of Marianne (played by Noémie Merlant), a painter who is currently teaching a group of female students how to sketch the human body while being the model. Right from the start, her on-screen presence is known and completely draws you in. I was hooked from the very first moment of this film and my attention stayed glued to the screen until the end.
The interactions between Marianne and her subject, Héloïse (played by Adèle Haenel) felt genuine. The looks and glances shared between these two women are some of the best shared moments to see on screen. Amazing performances by both of these actresses, as well as by the rest of the limited cast.
Cinematographer Claire Mathon needs to be applauded by her wonderful work here. We will be seeing still images from PORTRAIT for years to come as "One Perfect Shot"s. Not only did she capture the beautiful landscape, but she captured the essence of Marianne and Héloïse.
One last thing for me to rave about - the score. WOW!! Three of my favourite scenes of the film are heavily bathed in this extremely beautiful score. Each note felt on point and matched exactly what was happening on screen and helped to delivery further emotion to the audience.
All in all, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE quickly became my favourite film of 2019. And as I said to my significant other as we were leaving the theatre - if for some unfortunate reason I wasn't able to see another film at TIFF19 (this only being my second of the fest; Day 1), I would be satisfied and remain happy because I felt like I'd just seen one of the best films I could possibly see. It doesn't happen a lot, but this is getting a fully 5 stars from me. To me, this is a masterpiece and is worth every single compliment or praise.