Portrait of a Lady on Fire
[Portrait de la jeune fille en feu], directed by Céline Sciamma, France 2019, 120'
Fuelled by mystery, the flame of forbidden love explodes with a vengeance – the most beautiful love story of the year, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The film, directed by Céline Sciamma, instantly won the hearts of audiences at Cannes and seduced the jurors who awarded it for its script. The subtle yet fiery melodrama of the French director praises the female gaze and its impressive visual manifesto. A story of love ahead of its time and an intimate bond that unexpectedly arises between the two becomes a powerful force, capable of shattering many a taboo. The action takes place in Brittany, in 1770 – but the desires and feelings are as modern as ever. The heroines of the film are the aristocrat Heloiza – who is getting ready for an arranged marriage – and the Parisian painter Marianna. The latter is to paint a portrait of the first, but in secret: Heloiza does not want to pose, thus rebelling against the forced marriage. Marianna discreetly observes her model, creates intensively, but destroys subsequent versions of the painting. She feels that she will not know the true face of the young woman so long as she hides her own.