Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Movie review by Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
Portrait of a Lady on Fire Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 15+

Beautiful French drama about female lovers has nudity.

R 2020 122 minutes

Parents say

age 14+

Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+

Based on 10 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 12+

Visually Stunning and Bittersweet Emotionally

Even if you don't speak French, you can still enjoy this gorgeously filmed story of two young women who fall in love while one paints the other. It is reminiscent of "Girl With the Pearl Earring" in the way the tension builds between painter and subject, but also how it focuses on the process of the artist. Here, it is more the sketching and painting than the mixing of paints. If you are an artist, you will definitely enjoy this part. The romance between the two young woman is mostly visual and builds longing. There a few scenes of the women in bed together but it is natural and not gratuitous. I would use it for a chance to discuss sex with my child. The one bothersome element was that Héloïse seems rather suicidal. In the beginning, she runs toward a cliff but stops. In another one, she stands close to a fire and doesn't make any move to save herself after her dress catches fire (the other women put it out). Also, it is hinted that her sister may have committed suicide. She also reads the story of Orpheus and Eurydice in such a way as to hint that Eurydice did not want to leave the Underworld. I wouldn't recommend this for a young person who is depressed. Otherwise, it's a beautiful film that sparks many deep questions.

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age 15+

Valeria Golino slays in this role!

A beautiful film focusing on a relationship between two women during a multi-layered and complex time. The film does a subtle job of interweaving class into its narrative and you are well aware of the privilege and similarly the traps that these women feel they need to navigate. I appreciate the lack of male gaze in this film which should merit a 5 on its own, however I was not taken by this film emotionally. It did not reach me, but it is not to say the film is not unique, powerful, and healthy. Also, it was a delight to see Valeria Golino slay her role...well worth it.

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