It's a shame that Portrait of a Lady on Fire is n't showing in theaters. This French film is the latest proof that a film can be a work of art that has a thousand meanings. Each audience can interpret this film to be a different idea or meaning, but I catch that this is a film that tells about a forbidden love and how painful it is to maintain that love.
What makes love in this film forbidden? Both are women. In the late 18th century, a painter named Marianne (Noémie Merlant) arrives on a remote island near France, where he is assigned to paint a woman living on the island, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). Héloïse is someone who is very difficult to get along with, and he does not like posing for painting, so his mother (Valeria Golino) tells Marianne to paint him secretly and rely on his observation skills to remember Héloïse's appearance. We can tell what will happen to this film, but the tension Marriane feels while watching Héloïse in secret remains a thrilling moment.
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It is Marianne where this film is centered. We don't see Héloïse for the first few dozen minutes. And once we see her, we see her running towards the edge of the cliff, stopping, turning around, showing her face for the first time to Marianne and saying "I've dreamed of her for years." From here the tension of the two increases. The two of them looked at each other, trying to figure out what the other was thinking, knowing that their fates were intertwined with one another.
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Céline Sciamma, writer and director, is in no rush to show the sexual side of the two. With his story, he advances slowly but surely, trying to explore every side of the two characters. From the time Marianne accompanied Héloïse along the beach to when Marianne played a piano that Héloïse watched carefully. It was then that the two of them realized that something had happened inside of them, when Héloïse sat next to Marianne, looking into her eyes intensely, watching Marianne's piano playing.
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Watching Portrait of a Lady on Fire , of course I will remember Paul Thomas Anderson's film called Phantom Thread which was released in 2017. Phantom Thread is one of my favorite films, in which the film also features the two characters who are involved in a romantic relationship. very complicated. Both films have two characters who know the love they have is not an ordinary love that other people have, so they don't know what to do with their feelings. Their ignorance of these feelings has finally turned into a sexual tension that can be felt by the audience, into two films that both exude very high sexual arousal, even though it's the Phantom Thread. do not have indecent scenes.
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What might have made Marianne and Héloïse extremely high in sexual arousal is that they knew their feelings at that time were forbidden. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is set in the late 18th century, when same-sex love is still very much a taboo. Today it is no longer a problem, but in those days, things like that would easily invite controversy. Not only that, Héloïse has also planned to marry someone from the city of Milan. Even so, he realized that he had fallen in love with someone who was assigned to paint him, and Marianne also had feelings for someone who was the model for his painting.
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We as spectators know that their love is forbidden. We know that their future is very uncertain because Héloïse had to go to Milan to marry someone. We know that Marianne couldn't paint Héloïse forever just to meet him. But we also can't help our feelings to support the two of them, hoping until the end of the film for the two of them to always be together. How the characters Marianne and Héloïse can attract sympathy from the audience is one of the strongest points of this film, and something I really admire.
Is this a romantic film? No, I don't think of it as one of those romantic films. This is not a film where someone tries to win the heart of someone they like. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a film that tells how the two characters try to understand their feelings, how they should continue their relationship, knowing that what they have is forbidden. Marianne and Héloïse, knowing that they can't be forever, keep trying to run their relationship in secret.
It is not only the melancholic story that makes this film very beautiful, but how it is visually the film is also very pleasing to the eye. Claire Mathon who is the cinematographer for Portrait of a Lady on Fire can make every second of this film into a very beautiful work of art. Every frame of this film can be used as a painting because it is so amazing. How he is able to capture the atmosphere of the film only from the way he takes the pictures helps the atmosphere that the film builds.
Apart from how visually the film is very attractive, another thing that makes this film very interesting is the conversations of the two characters. While the film is running, there is no music playing in the background . The attention of the audience was focused with every word said by Marianne or Héloïse. Their conversation sounded clever and always interesting. Like one of those moments where Héloïse was posing for Marianne.
"If you are observing me, who am I observing?"
The lines Héloïse launched not only crept into Marianne, they also entered the minds of her audience. One sentence that might just start it all. It's also one of the quotes that I really like from a film, because it positions Héloïse as someone who also has power over Marianne. He revealed that during this time Marianne had not only observed, but had also been observed carefully by his own model. A sentence that has considerable strength, and this sentence is one example of the many quotes that I love from this film.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a film that is not only visually stunning, but also storytically awesome. This is a film that will always creep into the souls and minds of the audience, even after the film is over. An amazing experience, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a masterpiece and is sure to be one of the best films of the year. If only it could be enjoyed on the big cinema screen.
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