Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Director: Céline Sciamma
2020, France, 119 minutes, Digital, R
French, with English subtitles
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luana Bajrami, Valeria Golino
France, 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse’s portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love.
“A subtle and thrilling love story, at once unsentimental in its realistic assessment of women’s circumstances and almost utopian in its celebration of the freedom that is nonetheless available to them.” – A. O. Scott, The New York Times