Portrait of a Lady

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Beautifully shot and superb performances are just a couple of the reasons to go see  ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire.’

In French with English subtitles (and nominated for an Oscar for Best Film in a Foreign Language) ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ is a story about forbidden love set against the backdrop of a very different time and place. 

On an isolated island in Brittany in the 1770s, a female painter is hired by the mother of a young woman to paint a portrait of her daughter to send to a prospective husband. Yet Heloise (Adèle Haenel), is not very excited about both the prospect of marriage and of having her portrait painted.

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But somehow Marianne (Noemie Merlant) gets Heloise to warm to her, to pose gracefully, and soon enough they become close, enjoying walks on the beach, and time at Heloise’s stately home – more so when her mother leaves the house in order to give Marianne the freedom to paint. Marianne and Heloise start a love affair gently, softly, emotionally, and naturally – as it was bound to happen. Director and writer Céline Sciamma (‘Tomboy’ and ‘Girlhood’) elicits true passion from her actors without revealing too much in a film that’s original,  romantic, thoughtful, wistful, and will leave you thinking about it for days after you’ve seen it.

It’s a truly remarkable film that’s won lots of awards and was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, winning the Queer Palm there. Sciamma also won the award for Best Screenplay at Cannes.

‘Portrait of a Lady’ is now in UK cinemas.