Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Dir. Céline Sciamma. 2019, 120 mins. DCP. In French with English subtitles. With Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino. In pre-revolutionary France, Marianne (Merlant) is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Haenel), a young lady about to be married to an Italian nobleman. Instructed by the lady’s mother to assume the guise of a walking companion, Marianne observes Héloïse by day while secretly painting her at night. As the two women orbit one another, a sense of intimacy grows between them, until the composition of the portrait itself becomes a collaborative act, an unspoken testament to secret love. Winner of a Grand Jury prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival for its screenplay, Portrait of a Lady on Fire cements Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, Water Lilies) as among the finest filmmakers working today.