Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★½

Constructed in such effortless, artful precision—Celine Sciamma’s period lesbian romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire impresses in its poetic exploration of the female gaze, love and femininity in all bounds. The film follows a painter tasked to create a portrait of her elusive subject. As the painter becomes drawn to the challenge, love and desire ensues. Sciamma’s Portrait is a tribute to all femininity: the friendship and love created and nurtured by women and the conflicted women’s psychologies trapped in a patriarchal world which left me absolutely compelled in every frame.

Actresses Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel exuded a level of cinematic magnetism that I haven’t felt before onscreen and their level of deep desires and passions are burning my laptop screen. The closest of this level were Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (Carol) and Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue.

Claire Mathon’s cinematography is by far one of the glorious works I’ve ever seen in recent memory. Every shot is studied, and carefully constructed the way she positioned the actors in every frame is straight fire—all due to Sciamma’s masterful direction. Overall, Portrait is a film you want to revisit and luxuriate because of its too effortless, pleasurable viewing. Masterful.

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