Stacks Image p560_n2

They say that French is the language of love, so it's not surprising that there are a lot of French romantic films. Many are in the comedy genre, although these are generally very different from the more usual Hollywood Rom-Coms. Others are much more serious, dealing with the sometimes harsh realities of life.
Stacks Image p560_n36
  • Amour


  • L'Hermine


  • 20 ans d'écart

    20 ans d'écart

  • L'Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)

    L'Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)

  • Gemma Bovery

    Gemma Bovery

  • Grand Central

    Grand Central

  • Mon Roi

    Mon Roi

  • Souvenir


  • Pause


  • La Belle Époque

    La Belle Époque

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

  • 3 Coeurs

    3 Coeurs


Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
I have been patiently waiting for this film to appear on Amazon Prime (£4.49 rental) and the wait was well worth it. The critics loved it (98% Rotten Tomatoes), as do audiences (92%).

Set in late 18th Century Brittany and directed by Céline Sciamma, this is very much a female oriented film exploring the deep relationship between a young noblewoman and the female artist who has been commissioned to paint her portrait.

Héloïse, the noblewoman, and previously a convent girl, is destined to marry a Milanese nobleman. As was often the case in those days he requires a portrait of her before agreeing to the match. Héloïse, not wanting to marry, has no desire to play along. A previous artist left without even seeing her face!

Marianne arrives from Paris to attempt the task but is told by Héloïse's mother that she must do this by casual observation while purporting to be a walking companion. Héloïse's sister fell to her death on the rocky coast and as a consequence Héloïse has been forbidden to take walks alone.

The two complex women soon develop a rapport, with the maid of the house, Sophie, completing an intriguing female trio. With emotions deepening Marianne feels that she must end the subterfuge and show Héloïse the portrait. But Héloïse exclaims "Is that how you see me?" A criticism of Marianne's emotional understanding rather than her artistic talent.

From this point the relationship actually deepens, with Héloïse agreeing to sit for Marianne. The touching relationship develops further but, of course, it is doomed to end.

An intimate study beautifully filmed.

For a more detailed review I recommend Mark Kermode in the Guardian.