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  • Writer's pictureJack Aling

Portrait of a Lady on Fire - Review (London Film Festival 2019)

A Work of Art. 4.5 / 5

Directed by Céline Sciamma. On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

A different take on the period piece that feels modern and fresh, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a beautiful slow burn full of intrigue that recounts the memory of a love story.

Director Céline Sciamma creates a stunning film that has so much care and love put into every shot. She has made a deeply personal film that makes me so excited to check out her other work. From beautiful wide shots of the rural landscapes to the detailed close-ups focusing on the human form; every shot is vibrant and colourful and precisely planned.

Reminding me of Phantom Thread, this period set love story feels intimate and powerful as you see the two leads try to figure the other out whilst discovering their own feelings. Adèle Haenel's character especially comes more alive as the film goes on as you see her feel more trusting and liberated. Their chemistry has a real passion to it, making it fascinating to watch grown and unfold.

You get swept away, you believe it, and it breaks your heart.

I was not expecting to love this French-language period set love story but I love being surprised. When a film has his much dedication put into it, you can't help but adore it.

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