Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★★

Elegant - like a contour on the edge of every pixel on the screen. Effortless - like the artist mirroring the image feeling per feeling through her act of invention.

Damsel in distress, Heloise is betrothed to be wedded off to a Milanese man just as her sister, who rather chose to end her own life before that could happen. Saddened by the loss of her sister and feeling similarly resistant to the marriage, Heloise performs small acts of rebellion - like refusing to pose for a portrait that has to be painted of her according to family tradition. Painter Marianne is enlisted to cross the oceans to climb toward the cliff-located enclosure where Heloise has been bound with her mother and the house-help, Sophie. Heloise has been told that Marianne is there to be a companion to her, when in fact Marianne has to secretly paint a portrait of her.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire burns with fire. Always burning. Starting off as a small crackle of flame luring you in frame-by-frame, until it suddenly explodes into a sight of flaming majesty - uncontrollable yet very much in control - without you even knowing it. Marianne, the artist, initially produces an image that is acceptable. But this is completely inappropriate because the flame is already much larger than she had thought, and Heloise, the art-piece, knows that the image does not resemble the worth it tries to portray and calls Marianne out on that. This was perhaps my favourite scene, perfectly situated at the crux of the film as well. Like the pure creator that she is, Marianne is angered by this comment by Heloise. It is as if Heloise knew how to press her buttons at this stage of the burning flame, knowingly and unknowingly. And, Marianne herself, knowingly and unknowingly, knows that Heloise has not allowed her to see her yet, at least not completely, and this can only happen when the flame has completely consumed her. Marianne, is the artist though, she is the fuel and she has been here before, and she knows that this flame can only be fleeting... it always is. Heloise, is the heat, that yearns to be felt and she has to learn that for whatever reasons the oxygen that set them alit will not forever be around to keep the two of them alive. In the end, it is only death that can carry that ignition into the end of time - the two of them never had the power for that.

In solitude, I found the library you spoke of... but I also felt your absence.

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