Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★★

“Do all lovers feel like they’re inventing something?”

This maps out like the creation of a painting, truly a film captured in the eye of an artist who uses their brush to bring human emotions and intense intimacy to life before our eyes. Characters equally flesh out and become exposed on screen like gentle brush strokes across a canvas, it’s utterly breathtaking to watch. The careful meditation between painter and the subject as well as the blooming of a forbidden love. Observation seems like the most romantic thing ever: it’s love not lust. So much is said with small looks shared, slight expressions, wandering eyes and tiny gestures; moments are created from this and those moments seem to linger and fester in every perfectly framed shot. Before you know it a beautiful relationship— a flame if you will— has been and gone, extinguished right before us. Calling this relationship fleeting would be offensive to the level of its beauty but it does feel like it comes and goes so quickly to a painful extent. This film is all about the small and finite details: somehow the small sounds of a crackling fire and the scratching of a chalk across a blank canvas build sexual tension until something honest and true manifests. The slow pace and soft editing just make the sexual tension even more sexually tense but I feel like you can’t capture that kind of atmosphere in any other way it payed off more than anything. This movie is so soft and gentle that the classical music at the end feels so harsh and so brutal, it felt like of the most brutal moments in cinema, it was so painful. Just such masterful decisions were made with this film: how does one create something so simple and yet so genius?

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