This is a quantum creative leap for Sciamma, herself a keen observer of behavior. (Her previous films, like Tomboy and Girlhood, were rich with character detail.) Time traveling to an old world seems to unlock the full scope of her passion and insight.
Stream Portrait of a Lady on Fire
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Visually ravishing ... [A] piercingly intelligent treatise on art, agency and queer love in the 18th century.
Sciamma ... has a magnificent capability for elegant prose that wouldn’t feel out of place in a classic novel, the kind of dialogue that simmers long after it is spoken.
Razor-sharp and shatteringly romantic ... as perfect a film as any to have premiered this year.
Not since Jane Campion’s The Piano has a costume drama presented such a gorgeous view of love from a woman’s point of view.
Assaying [Sciamma's] first period film, an exquisitely executed love story that's both formally adventurous and emotionally devastating, she sticks the landing like a UCLA gymnast in peak condition. It's so good you'll want to watch again in slow-motion immediately afterwards just to see how she does it.
A superbly elegant, enigmatic drama ... I was on the edge of my seat.
Though this gorgeous, slow-burn lesbian romance works strongly enough on a surface level, one can hardly ignore the fact, as true then as it is now, that the world looks different when seen through a woman’s eyes.
Sciamma’s splendid, multi-layered conceit manages to carry equal weight as a love story and a manifesto of sorts for feminine art.
Arthouse audiences will be intrigued to discover how Sciamma has channelled the fluid energy of her contemporary work into the more constrained environment of a costume drama. It won’t hurt that this is a strikingly handsome production which will be admired on a technical level.