This film won Queer Palm (Sciamma became the first female director to win this award) and won Best Screenplay at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Portrait of A Lady on Fire tells the story of a painter, Marianne (Noémi Merlant) who was hired to make a portrait of a young aristocratic woman named Héloïse (Adèle Hanel). Héloïse is said to be married to a rich man from Italy whom he has never met.
Mrs. Héloïse, a French nobleman called The Countess (played by Valeria Golino), had arranged the marriage, and the portrait was needed to convince her future husband of the charm of his future wife.
After his arrival, Marianne learned that the previous painter had failed and was expelled by Héloïse. The Countess also arranged for Marianne to be as close to Héloïse, to observe it as closely as possible and then paint it through the memories of her conversation.
This was done in secret so Héloïse would not know what Marianne’s real mission was until her portrait was finished.
Who would have thought, the closeness of Marianne and Héloïse provided a variety of new perspectives on both. This closeness leads to “more than just female friends”.
Like the European film, Portrait of A Lady on Fire has a slow pace in storytelling. However, this can be helped from the jokes that often occur in dialogues between Marianne and Héloïse.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is one of four films in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival that are directed by women. What’s more, some of the Portrait of a Lady on Fire production team included a producer, cinematographer, and first director’s assistant as well as a woman. Games Online dan Offline
Not surprisingly, Céline Sciamma plotted the Portrait of a Lady on Fire about how Marianne and Héloïse fell in love step by step.
Sciamma was very patient in building the emotional bond through a series of lines, conversations, and eye views between the two women.
Sound system also plays a very good role in the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Noted, there are only two music that is displayed in this film but is very able to be maximized. First, the acappella was carried out by a group of women while at a campfire.
The acapella is transformed into a very interesting intense choir (composed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier and Arthur Simonini)
Secondly, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons notation was played in the middle of the film and (the most climax) at the end to show Héloïse’s emotions with extreme close-ups.
In addition, the sub-plots presented in the Portrait of a Lady on Fire such as mother-child conflict, unwanted arranged marriages, unwanted pregnancies, as well as contemporary ways to deal with them have quite good storytelling weight.
Even more interesting, Céline Sciamma did not try to apply the standards of modern women at the end of Marianne and Héloïse’s relationship.
Instead of trying to be critical and “break the rules”, Sciamma put both in a position of surrender and “accept” patriarchal culture (which of course was created by men) as his destiny.
In general, the Portrait of a Lady on Fire provides a boundary between gloomy realism options and an understanding of reality.
Céline Sciamma clearly chose the latter option, thus placing the film in the climax of the perfect ending with a wave of maximum emotional intensity but still very quiet.