Portrait of a Lady on Fire

8.5/10 After releasing Best Picture winner “Parasite”, NEON continues its amazing run as it puts out this film, a beautiful, emotional tale of love that pulls at your heartstrings and will make you equally sad and hopeful by its ending. The acting is absolutely first rate and Adèle Haenel was the stand out for me as she gives an incredible performance that makes me want to seek out her other work. Her co-lead Noémie Merlant is also quite brilliant as they are evenly matched for each other. The cinematography is striking and the film surprisingly plays with reality in a couple of quick moments, which really worked for me. The costume design and production design expertly take us back to the end of the 18th century and the use of color says a lot about the film. One of the aspects I loved the most was that the romance doesn’t really kick off until much later in the film. The film correctly spends its first half building up the plot, characters and tension between these women and developing everything on screen before the romance kicks off. The sexuality of the film is very sensual and artistic, without becoming gratuitous and pornographic, which I appreciated. Writer/director Céline Sciamma is in commanding control over every aspect of the film and has a clear vision of what she is trying to communicate to the audience. The legend of Orpheus and Eurydice ends up in the film and relates to our two protagonists and their struggles quite nicely. As far as complaints go, the film does start off rather slowly and takes about a half an hour to get things going and interesting. There is also a shot near the end involving one of the leads looking at a painting which would have been the perfect note/shot to end the film on but instead it adds one last scene that, while wonderfully acted, wasn’t as emotionally powerful as the previous scene’s final shot. The flaws are relatively minor and if you don’t mind same sex romances, this is a wonderful film that has great character development, terrific tension building, award worthy performances and never forces anything. This is one portrait worth remembering.

#NowPlayingAtTheOrpheusTheater / #ToHéloïseAndBackAgain / #LyreLyreDressOnFire / #PaintElmosFire / #PaletteCleanser / #TheHighsAndPose

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