Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★½

Original Review: boxd.it/1MIZXh

I think Portrait of a Lady on Fire worked even more for me on a second viewing. It would be probably be perfect if not for the fact that the runtime is slightly too long leading to a third act that drags at times. I'm not fully convinced about the ending either as something a bit more open and ambiguous feels like it would have been more suitable. However, those issues shouldn't detract from just how beautiful this movie is. The stunning cinematography gets the most out of Brittany's coastline with a particular focus on the impossibly blue sea and spectcular cliffs. The two lead actresses are absolutely fantastic and deliver performances that rely a lot on what is said through facial expressions and body movements as well as dialogue. The relationship is so perfectly written and paced as it takes a long time to develop in a rather subtle manner before becoming much more in your face towards the end of the film. It's obvious that Céline Sciamma took some inspiration from Bergman's Persona for this but the story contains a good mixture of different genres and influences. There are even some scenes that are almost along the lines of folk horror with the bonfire scene being an especially strange and riveting moment in the film. Overall, I think that things do slip ever so slightly towards the end of the narrative but in every other department Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a near perfect movie.


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