MOVIE #1,491 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 03.29.24 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝙲É𝙻𝙸𝙽𝙴 𝚂𝙲𝙸𝙰𝙼𝙼𝙰 (𝙵𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚌𝚑: [selin sjama];) 𝙳𝙸𝚁𝙴𝙲𝚃𝙾𝚁 ...

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

MOVIE #1,491 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 03.29.24
𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝙲É𝙻𝙸𝙽𝙴 𝚂𝙲𝙸𝙰𝙼𝙼𝙰 (𝙵𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚌𝚑: [selin sjama];) 𝙳𝙸𝚁𝙴𝙲𝚃𝙾𝚁 𝙵𝙾𝙲𝚄𝚂 🇫🇷

I like the scene where one of the girls is fingering the other’s armpit but it's shot as a close-up so it looks like maybe one of her holes. And I'm sorry — I'm normally not one to even write about the sex scenes or otherwise ‘work blue’ — but, frankly, not a lot that happens in this movie and you're lying if you didn't also think that part was pretty cool! So I have to ask the question: Is it possible to really like something while also finding it extremely dull?
I submit Portrait of a Lady on Fire as evidence that, yes, it's possible. And before any stray reader comes at me with “you're just hedging bets in terms of your critical bonafides so it doesn't look like you're on the wrong side of the #30 film of all-time according to the Sight & Sound poll,” please know that I'd be more than happy to go against that thing, at the drop of a hat even. I revel in contrarianism, but only when the movie warrants it. And this is, without a doubt, a very good movie.

Randomly, I’m reminded of Bret Easton Ellis’s take on Tao Lin: “With Taipei Tao Lin becomes the most interesting prose stylist of his generation, which doesn't mean that Taipei isn't a boring novel.” There’s something aglow here even if the experience of witnessing it often feels tedious. Sparse, almost blank interiors surrounded by the most spectacular oceanside exteriors provide a setting that by themselves warrant attention. The decision to not utilize a conventional score is also a good one, as it punctuates the role of music in this faraway, natural world. There are so many little details like that, many of which I admit probably went over my head.

The period piece forbidden love romance is ripe for middling, pandering garbage (see The World to Come). I’m — again — not the target audience, but you’d have to be blind to see that Sciamma elevates the genre. Also, the intial sketches for the titular portrait kinda look Kumail Nanjiani?

Also it was nice to see Valeria Golino, whom I only know from the Hot Shots movies (I'm just showing my ass and true nature all over this review). This is a great factoid to have in the second sentence of your Wikipedia page, imo...

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (French: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, lit. 'Portrait of the Young Lady on Fire') is a 2019 French historical romantic drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma, starring Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel. Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of a sexual affair between two young women: an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait. It marked Haenel's final film role prior to her retirement from the French film industry in 2023. It was released on May 19, 2019.


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