Portrait of a Lady on Fire
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A heart-breaking period piece told with a distinctly modern feminist energy.
France in the late 18th century. Painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned by an affluent countess to paint the wedding portrait of her sheltered but headstrong daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), in the hope it will find her a wealthy husband. While posing as her hired companion, Marianne is instructed to complete the portrait in secret, observing Héloïse by day and painting her by night. However, as the two women grow closer, their intimacy and attraction begins to blossom, paving the way for a simmering, star-crossed romance.
A heart-breaking period piece told with a distinctly modern feminist energy, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the first female-directed film to win the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival and cements Sciamma’s reputation as a world-class filmmaker.
The film is selected by Tessa Dekkers of Th!ink with Pride. Tessa states: “When you're observing me, who do you think I'm observing?” For this month’s Movie with Pride I wanted to select a movie by a lesbian director that celebrates the female gaze - and you will see plenty of gazes between the beautiful leads as their love blossoms on their little private island (literally and figuratively). Next to the love story, I also like Portrait of a Lady on Fire (original title: Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu) for the other, often untold, story about friendship and mentorship between women.