Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a queer romance that dares you to listen closely

Portrait of a Lady on Fire takes its name from a painting. You see it early on in the film, which is from Girlhood director Céline Sciamma. Marianne, an art instructor in 18th century France, keeps it in the studio where she teaches young women. When asked about its significance, the film flashes back years prior to a time when she found the inspiration to make the painting and fell in love. And for two hours, you do, too.

There are endless reasons for this. The most readily apparent is the film’s cinematography, which is consistently beautiful. Each frame could conceivably be an inspiration for another portrait with a rich backstory beyond this one. Carefully composed but never flashy in a way that draws attention to itself, Portrait…

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