Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★★

do all lovers feel they’re inventing something?

the clandestine stealing of forbidden glances. the thankless task of trying to tamp a lover’s image into the folds of your brain. the dread of said image’s inevitable fading. the smoldering slow-burn of impossible yearning, and the explosive fireworks when it’s finally reciprocated. the sizzling sound of a final farewell.

director céline sciamma packs each frame with tangible emotion, and she does it all without a manipulative score. we know exactly what to feel at all times, purely on the merit of the leads’ magnetic performances and claire mathon’s luscious cinematography. music is only utilized sparsely (through vivaldi, and through a choral latin chant), and it’s all diegetic, which preserves the film’s veracity. the perfect song seldom plays during our most formative moments, and the perfect person seldom enters our lives at the right time. but sometimes, if we’re lucky enough, they can overlap.

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