Thursday, April 2, 2020

Portrait of a Lady on Fire - Movie Review

The Movie: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

The Director: Céline Sciamma

The Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino

The Story: On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

The Review:
Well, that was a beautiful movie. Every frame of Céline Sciamma's film is like a carefully crafted work of art that has been filled with a with an explosion of authentic emotions. The cinematography alone is worth whatever price you might ever pay to watch this movie and then you also get an incredibly engaging story and some real powerhouse performances all the way around. Sciamma expertly weaves through an intensely romantic story that defies convention while probably being much more honest than we typically see on screen.

In the two lead roles, Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel put on a clinic of how to effectively execute a romantic drama not just through dialog but also through gestures, postures, glances, and every form of subtlety you can imagine. Their characters are fully realized human beings not just creations translated from words on a page, there is a transcendent level of performance that is just beautiful. There is a real understanding of who these women are which really comes from all aspects, the writing, the direction, and the performances coming from women.

One thing I will say about the movie is that, for the casual movie goer, a deep dive into a period piece that is also a highly dramatic romance story might be a little heavy but I would encourage anyone to stretch out a bit and give it a try. For my part, I loved just about everything this movie has to offer from the beautifully rendered imagery to the emotionally stunning performances.

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