Portrait Of a Lady On Fire - film screening
Time & Location
About the Event
In 1760, Lady Héloïse’s (Adèle Haenel) mother hires a female painter to create a portrait of her daughter for a distant suitor. But the painter, Marianne (Noémie Merlant), must do so in secret because Héloïse is fiercely opposed to being married off; she thinks instead that Marianne has been hired as a walking companion. Looking – especially so intently in order to memorise details – becomes an act of profound intimacy and seduction, and when Héloïse’s mother leaves for business in town, the smouldering between the women ignites. While this is devastatingly effective as a love story against impossible social and cultural barriers, to read the film as only that is to dismiss so many nuances and layers. Céline Sciamma has crafted a film about the unique, secret codes of female-only spaces; about an historical economy which rendered women’s artistic contributions invisible, but not non-existent; and about women’s limited control of their own bodies. This is a gloriously restrained and precise film that pushes for new ways of employing sound and music, one that redefines the construction of the gaze – of the protagonist, the camera, and the viewer – on the female form. With every new work, from Water Lilies and Tomboy to Girlhood, Sciamma has developed as a filmmaker of greater power and poignancy. Portrait of a Lady on Fire seals her position amongst the best of her generation. It’s Céline Sciamma on fire. [write up from BFI].
Screening as part of the Borderlines Film Festival