Film recommendation – Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)

Watch this stunning French lesbian period drama.

This ravishing story of female passion and desire set in 18th-century France is a beautiful masterpiece about love, creativity and the power of just looking. Or, as director Céline Sciamma says, it is about the ‘gaze’ (or is that the – female – gays?).

It is a sumptuous love story set in 18th-century France. Artist Marianne must secretly paint the portrait of countess’s daughter Héloïse in the hope it will find her a wealthy husband, although Héloïse doesn’t want to be married – or painted. Nevertheless, a burgeoning attraction between artist and subject develops. Exploring women’s roles in society within a historical context, Sciamma has crafted a poignant, exquisite portrait of female desire and solidarity.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a swooningly romantic film, but it also explores female friendship and solidarity, the historical world of women, art – and also the realities of the female world including periods, abortion, food and drink, laughter and the strictures of society’s norms. This is a film to make you cry, to make you dream and to make you think.

(2019 France 122 mins)

It’s a deeply intense love story told with painterly restraint, but contains moments of gut-wrenching romance … it’s not just for a female audience: it’ll appeal to anyone who loves cinema and romance. If you miss the crashing waves and sexual longing of The Piano, and think Carol could have used a bit more Call Me By Your Name, then Portrait Of A Lady On Fire will set your world alight.  Anna Smith, Metro


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