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.
The Hollywood Reporter by Leslie Felperin
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.
The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw
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.
This film wasted no words, most of the emotionally significant moments being in stares, action, music, and (of course) art. While I’ve never been especially interested in period pieces, it was so refreshing to watch because of its focus on women and their relationships with one another.
A really lovely look at the relationship between two women, the liberation they found through each other, and the restrictions they had to face apart. The beautiful cinematography along with the engaging acting make this a really wonderful and touching viewing experience.
A beautiful romance told subtly and tenderly. This period piece owes its effectiveness to the centering of the female gaze - of the woman staring back at us as we stare at her. Celine Sciamma portrays her female characters with the kind of fierceness and power that is refreshing to see on the big screen.