Portrait of a Lady on Fire ★★★★½

ciff ‘19 #2:
“Turn around.”

It’s hard to convey exactly how much I loved Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Every shot, sight, and sound of this moving picture feels completely immersive. As the film begins, and we see this island through the eyes of Marianne, the singular noises stand out. The flicker of a flame, the sip of a drink, the slice of a knife. But it’s when Héloïse enters the narrative that you begin to see these sounds from a different perspective. Accompanied by the crashing of waves against sand, and feet against those waves, you notice how nothing is complete without something else. The fire burns against wood. Lips pressed to a glass to drink from. A knife cutting through the surface of bread. 

I’m still in awe at nearly everything about this film, and how it replicates emotion through myth, transferring the soul of someone else’s story to the core of our own. The final shot is illuminatingly dark. Most of all, this proved that time is the greatest villain in film history. All we can do is watch it manipulate our lives and box them in. I’m just at a loss for words.

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