Author Topic: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)  (Read 2023 times)

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« on: February 26, 2020, 10:27:31 AM »
It's the lesbian Call Me by Your Name!

Although this shares similarities with that film in that it's a romantic story between two people of the same sex during an evocative historical period (and they both feature amazing closing shots of one of the lovers reflecting on the relationship while music plays), it's quite different in tone. Its edges are harsher, helped by Sciamma's minimalist style.

Because of that style it didn't tug at the heartstrings like CMBYN did, though I heard a few sniffles at my screening so perhaps that was just me. However, the intensity of the thing is remarkable. The performances are stupendous; the viewer is totally with each character at every step. No wonder it won the Cannes prize for 'best screenplay', as each scene and piece of dialogue build on each other in the subtlest of ways. It's a wonderfully effective and economical script.

I think there are two instances of music? When they occur, they knock your socks off. Last night the audience was dumbfounded when the credits rolled and after a few seconds of silence burst out into applause. It's a very affecting film, in a visceral rather than emotional sense if you know what I mean.

I haven't seen a film by Sciamma before and I have to say she is pretty, pretty good.

9/10 for me, Clive

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Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2020, 10:55:03 AM »
This was one of my favourite films from last year, and I agree it is very affecting, especially when those credits start rolling. I have to say that I disliked Call Me By Your Name to quite a considerable degree, despite admiring the occasional moments of tenderness (usually involving Michael Stuhlbarg). I can see some of the parallels, but this was a far more cinematic affair with real stakes.

Blinder Data

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Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2020, 11:13:45 AM »
I should've made clear that my intent was to appear flippant in comparing the two so closely. They do make interesting companion pieces though.

joaquin closet

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Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2020, 12:34:50 AM »
Fucking amazing film. That ending... wow.

The Adèle Haenel performance is just remarkable, probably my favourite film performance since Steven Yeun in Burning.

Anyone notice one naff shot though? It was a shot of the two women and shifted focus from one to the other when one turned their head... Not very specific I know but really stuck out both times I saw it...

But ignore my nitpicking. Fucking amazing like I said.

Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2020, 11:33:35 PM »
I think there are two instances of music? When they occur, they knock your socks off
Second one of these immediately brought a film from 2004 to mind (Birth, that scene where Nicole Kidman sells the ridiculous scenario to herself) and I wound up leaving the cinema thinking about how amazing it was instead...

Film was good but I certainly didn't buy the romance the way most seemed to and I can't figure out why.


Best bit was the abortion baby shot, but following it up with her doing her important work and it being the much less artistically impressive painting of the abortion being performed was kinda flat, like I get the point of it but it done nothing for me.
The gallery bit with the painting at the end was pretty unnecessary too, wasn't it? Whatever it added wasn't worth whatever extra power could've been given to the bit after instead (even if it didn't work for me outta quite unfair reasons)

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Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2020, 10:18:19 AM »
Well, yes, I think this film is close to perfect but the only duff moment for me was the close-up of the '28' on the corner of the book. I'm not sure who they think will miss the reference by simply having her finger inserted into a page near the start of the book. The exposition towards the most stupid person in the audience was disappointing.

But that is a tiny criticism of such a beautiful and moving film. I think this slightly edges out The Lighthouse and Beanpole for my favourite film of 2019.

Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2020, 10:13:36 PM »
So this is just terrific then.
Well done everyone

Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2020, 11:57:43 PM »
I may be alone in thinking this was just good. Beautifully shot and well acted though.

What were the armpit drugs? Looked like fun

Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2020, 01:58:22 AM »
Well, yes, I think this film is close to perfect but the only duff moment for me was the close-up of the '28' on the corner of the book. I'm not sure who they think will miss the reference by simply having her finger inserted into a page near the start of the book. The exposition towards the most stupid person in the audience was disappointing.
I just didn't think that scene was needed in general; without the exposition it was too slight, with it it was too overbearing, both ways it made the final scene feel like an epilogue to an epilogue

I may be alone in thinking this was just good. Beautifully shot and well acted though.

What were the armpit drugs? Looked like fun

this, I think? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_ointment

Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2020, 05:01:55 PM »
I just didn't think that scene was needed in general; without the exposition it was too slight, with it it was too overbearing, both ways it made the final scene feel like an epilogue to an epilogue

this, I think? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_ointment

Fascinating! Thanks

Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2020, 05:08:02 PM »
I've liked all Sciamma's earlier films (particularly Tomboy), but couldn't get into this at all. I know it's a French period film, but I found it gratingly theatrical the way every conversation between the two seemed to be abstract and philosophical, and spoken at a very intense pitch. Almost like something from a Henry James ghost story. I was waiting for the moment where they would show some warmth towards each other, speak with some humour, say something personal, etc, as the relationship became romantic, but it didn't really come (I can only think of the bit where Marianne says she can tell when Heloise is hurt, or embarrassed, or nervous, by her tell-tale signs). Not being swept along, I found the ending a bit unearned - like Sciamma had thought of that final image first, then worked backwards. I thought About Schmidt or Birth did similar-ish scenes better. And Call Me By Your Name conveyed the feeling of falling love very well (I guess that's what I was expecting, and thought was missing).

Usual caveat: I might, of course, be judging it on unfair terms - repressed emotions and desires are a key theme. I was sort of hoping it was going in a Rosemary's Baby direction at one point too.
Also I was surrounded by people who weren't wearing face-masks (in East Asia, no less) and one kept coughing, so I was a bit distracted by the cunt.

Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2020, 07:41:28 PM »
I've liked all Sciamma's earlier films (particularly Tomboy), but couldn't get into this at all. I know it's a French period film, but I found it gratingly theatrical the way every conversation between the two seemed to be abstract and philosophical, and spoken at a very intense pitch. Almost like something from a Henry James ghost story. I was waiting for the moment where they would show some warmth towards each other, speak with some humour, say something personal, etc, as the relationship became romantic, but it didn't really come (I can only think of the bit where Marianne says she can tell when Heloise is hurt, or embarrassed, or nervous, by her tell-tale signs). Not being swept along, I found the ending a bit unearned - like Sciamma had thought of that final image first, then worked backwards. I thought About Schmidt or Birth did similar-ish scenes better. And Call Me By Your Name conveyed the feeling of falling love very well (I guess that's what I was expecting, and thought was missing).
I felt a bit like that but a bit more general, like she thought of the idea and thought of a few pieces she wanted to get in, then didn't really pull off segueing them in a way that worked naturally.

RE: Birth, I mentioned it above. It's such a broad concept that I feel like it's a bit unfair to be like "this film perfected that kind of thing", but I found it really fucking hard to not be taken out of the moment there on account of how good Nicole Kidman was with thatr scene

Zero Gravitas

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Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2020, 02:10:06 PM »
Anyone notice one naff shot though? It was a shot of the two women and shifted focus from one to the other when one turned their head... Not very specific I know but really stuck out both times I saw it...

I quite liked those, they did stand out but I thought that was a semi-allusion to seeing as a painter when you're actually looking at the world you have a quite a narrow range in focus much like a camera however generally when expressed on canvas everything is sharp as if being looked at directly.

Similarly I didn't feel the 28 was too strong, perhaps such obvious symbolism is a little anachronistic for the 1770s but not out of place in personal portraiture, but then again I was crying like a baby by that point so perhaps I wasn't in the best place to be negative.

Zero Gravitas

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Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2020, 02:03:35 AM »
Oops

Zero Gravitas

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Re: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma)
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2020, 02:05:32 AM »
I don't know the difference between post and edit.

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