Portrait of a Lady on Fire
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 forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.
France, 1770. Marianne, a painter, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Héloïse is a reluctant bride to be and Marianne must paint her without her knowing. She observes her by day, to paint her secretly.
Why It Rocks
- Impeccable and stellar acting, especially from Merlant and Haenel.
- Colorful, gorgeous, and ravishing scenery and cinematography. Everything here is lovely to look at and the way the movie is shot is not only captivating but it also is likely to place viewers in such an awestruck state that most movies don't really put viewers in.
- The film is surprisingly funny at times, while also serious or heartbreaking at other times. Like Parasite, this film manages to blend all those tones in very evenly so nothing feels out of place.
- There is almost no music in the movie at all, but it's great because this film's motivation is to allow viewers to put themselves in the shoes of its two main characters and feel for them as they feel for themselves and each other. The lack of music and the incredible screenplay increase the likelihood of viewers being able to feel immersed in the movie this way.
- Thought-provoking and timely story with many themes open for discussion.
- Exceptional and ingenious script.
- Complex yet likeable characters.
- The film is a two-hour slow burn but the pacing is so smooth that the film never gets boring.
- The romance between Marianne and Héloïse is nothing short of real and remarkable. It never, at any point in the movie, feels as if it's being shoved down our throats.
- THE ENDING.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire received universally positive reviews from critics and audiences and has been called one of the best films of 2019. It holds a 98% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 301 reviews. Its consensus reads, "A singularly rich period piece, Portrait of a Lady on Fire finds stirring, thought-provoking drama within a powerfully acted romance." Metacritic, another review aggregator site, gave the film a weighted average rating of 95/100, based on 47 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." It is the second best-reviewed movie of 2019 on both websites behind Parasite. Chris Stuckmann gave the film a grade of A+, and called it "a film that comes along rarely in a filmmaker's career."
The film was one of three films that France had shortlisted for the Best International Feature category for the 92nd Academy Awards. Les Misérables was ultimately selected.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire was released for streaming on Hulu on March 27, 2020. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2020 by Pyramide Video and on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States by the Criterion Collection on June 23, 2020.