Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★½

Total Eclipse of the Heart ruined the "turn around" scene for me.

It was this rewatch that made me fall in love with this film but devastated me at the same time. What captured my attention the most throughout this rewatch was the power of the gaze. How it can simultaneously crush us, free us, and allow us to transcend space and time. The gaze is often used interchangeably with a look or a glance, which is used so well in this film. When Heloise turned around for the first time, I felt pinned to my seat by her gaze as she had such intensity in her eyes. Something so simple as a look or a glance, if used and done correctly, can change the entire feel and power of the film. Just as most painters capture the gaze of the subject's portrait, director Céline Sciamma reinvents the gaze and perfects it in this mesmerizing but heartbreaking romance film.

I may have mentioned this in my previous review but I want to mention the colors and cinematography of this film. I actually googled where this film was shot because it was absolutely breathtaking. The film is beautiful to look at, deep and rich as if rendered in oils. The romance at its center is very real and precisely described and the borders of life that frame the story are exactly drawn - exactly like a painting. This is a movie I will definitely find myself revisiting for years to come, continuing to find something to analyze and write about. Stay tuned! Do all lovers feel like they're inventing something? More like do all lovers of this movie feel like they're about to burst into tears?

2019 Ranked

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