J’s review published on Letterboxd:
“don’t forget. remember.”
Portrait of a Lady on Fire limns every touch, every look, and every feeling on a canvas so sharply and sensually framed it burns and pierces in its bouts of yearning and having. through further provocative phrases and glances it savours its desires, which is uniquely tied with lesbianism, without a bat of an eyelash on any man but towards each other. it develops in brushstrokes of red, green, and blue until it becomes a stunning painting of amorous devotion. the devotion is immortalised. genuine intimacy is shown through stains on a blanket after they made love, lines of saliva after each kiss, fingers and armpit, and even one which involves a glass of water (seeing a personal experience made me smile). and not only does it focus on a love story alone but incorporates very small doses of women stories too. I honestly have never seen the female anatomy so astoundingly revered and worshipped as in Portrait of a Lady on Fire: hands resting on another’s body, the space where the neck and shoulder meet, dilated eyes, the curve of a waist, the shape of the ears, even the back of the neck—it is utterly breathtaking.
a film that takes its time to love, to own, and to give itself away to somebody else’s expectations. a self varies, exists differently, in different eyes. and the permeating sadness that devastates its last ten minutes sigh in its own relief of remembrance. anything intense has a grasp on memory so strong it might as well be another reality. and it may be the closest one can have in replacing another’s absence.
every time you turn around, you never forget.