Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Look, if there’s one thing lesbian cinema knows how to do, it’s to impart volumes of unspoken meaning behind the simple look. Or, you know, The Look. And, if you’re looking for a movie that knows exactly what it means to be observed, and to observe, in the best way possible then “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is the movie you should see to both celebrate the ridiculous year/decade we just ended and welcome what I hope will be a new decade of discovery. Well, you know, if we can all live through 2020.

But back to the damn movie. Spare in dialogue but loaded with emotions (hello, French cinema, how I love you despite your clouds of tobacco smoke), the film is a masterclass on the power of attention. Paying attention, giving attention, receiving attention. It’s a sumptuous affair where the desire is translated almost exclusively through the eyes. And in doing so becomes a feast for them on every level possible.

It is also the rarest of films without even so much as the possibility of the male gaze. Yes, its premise if forever framed by the constraints of patriarchal society – a young woman is commissioned to paint the portrait of another young woman so the latter may be married off to a man. But then it removes them from the equation to require happiness, and instead unveils layers that it seems only the most discerning female eye can truly see in another woman.

So on this first day of 2020, may you feel the heat coming from the way Heloise and Marianne look at one another. And may it fire your passion for whatever you love in the coming new year. So, I guess what I’m saying is, yeah – I liked it. This was a portrait of a lesbian movie on fire. Happy New Year, kittens.

1 comment:

Carmen SanDiego said...

Happy new year DS
Looking forward to seeing this movie