MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 27, 2019: The Best of A Banner Year

Late December is a good time for a Movie of the Week recap: 38 of our selections have been femme-helmed, and all are about women — biodocs about influential game-changers like Tracy Edwards, Toni Morrison and Dr. Ruth, as well as narratives about complex fictional power players such as Claire in The Nightingale, Molly in Late Night and Orna in Working Woman. With inspiring stories about women’s struggles for equality and other key issues, AWFJ’s #MOTW roster shows the range and high level of achievement of women working in film. Here Team #MOTW presents our favorites. Wonder what’s in store?

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK Dec 6, 2019: PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

A picture is worth a thousand words — and leads to a thousand longing glances — in writer/director Celine Sciamma’s passionate drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Set in remote mid-1700s Brittany, it follows the increasingly intense relationship between painter Marianne (Noemie Merlant) and her unknowing subject, Heloise (Adele Haenel), who has just left sheltered convent life.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Leslie Combemale

If there is such a genre as ‘Mystical Femme,’ and there really should be, French writer/director Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire belongs in it, placed at the top. Winner of the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, the film features magnetic lead actresses whose chemistry with each other is off the charts.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Loren King

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, winner of the best screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is an unforgettable love story that unspools at a slow burn until the final act, which blazes with an incandescence. The women don’t end up together — no surprise, given the times, and this outcome is made clear by the film’s opening scene. But through artistic images of one another — those they recorded, what they revealed — they keep alive a precious, private memory forever burned into their hearts and minds.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Sheila Roberts

If you enjoy femme-centric cinema with a strong female gaze, go see filmmaker Celine Sciamma’s sublime period drama, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, set on an isolated island in 1760’s Brittany. Sciamma examines the relationship between a reluctant bride-to-be (Heloise/Adele Haenel) and the artist (Marianne/Noemie Merlant) secretly commissioned by her mother (La Comtesse/Valeria Golino) to paint her wedding portrait. While posing as a hired companion, Marianne surreptitiously observes every detail of her subject on their daily walks then paints Heloise from memory in the evenings.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – TIFF19 Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The manner with which acclaimed French filmmaker Céline Sciamma tackles the notion of the female gaze in Portrait of a Lady on Fire transcends mere cleverness and artistry; she elevates it to something almost mystical.

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