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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

(Rated M)

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"Being free is being alone?"

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Overview

When Paris-based painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is booked to produce a portrait of a young woman on a remote island in Brittany, she doesn't realise how arduous the task will be or how much it will change her. Héloïse (Adele Haenel), the portrait's subject, has refused to pose to delay her eventual marriage to a Milanese nobleman, and so Marianne must observe and paint in private. Their initial hostilities towards each other turn slowly into something intimate when left alone at the estate with young housemaid Sophie, who has secret issues of her own.

Winner: Best Screenplay & Queer Palm
— Cannes Film Festival 2019
"A superbly elegant, enigmatic drama ... I was on the edge of my seat"
— The Guardian
"It's just damn beautiful"
— Margaret Pomeranz, Foxtel Screen
"A masterpiece. A devastatingly unforgettable story of love and memory ... Razor-sharp and shatteringly romantic"
— IndieWire
"It’s deeply romantic and also deeply thoughtful – an electric combination"
— Time Out

Why You Should See This Film

Written and directed by French auteur Celine Sciamma (Tomboy, Girlhood, Water Lilies), with stunning cinematography by Claire Mathon (Atlantics), Portrait of a Lady on Fire is an exquisite masterclass in slow burn cinema. Sciamma turns her precise gaze onto not just the sensual chemistry between Merlant and Haenel, but also paints a broader picture of the possibilities that existed for women who strayed outside the usual societal confines of the eighteenth century. Our Director of Programming's favourite film of the year.

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  • Year: 2019
  • Rating: M
  • Director: Céline Sciamma
  • Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luana Bajrami, Valeria Golino
  • Duration: 119 minutes
  • Language: French with English subtitles
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