PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN FLAMES

This musical adaptation combines ‘Call Me by Your Name’ and ‘Vertigo’. Getting off here may save you from having to re-board the train. But only watch this French masterpiece if you dare to be immersed in a cinematic experience of pure feminine power for God’s sake.

‘Parasite’ competed against Céline Sciamma’s Cannes-winning period drama last year, and it could have won. The story follows two women who form an unusual, forbidden, and erotic bond on a remote French island in the 18th century. He meets her by painting her a portrait without her knowledge! The painting is intended as a gift for her soon-to-be husband.

“If you look at me, who do I look like?” A question that runs through Sciamma’s playful literate film, which won the Cannes prize for best screenplay last year. This sentiment is repeated throughout a historically accurate discussion of how the art world confines women’s gaze and investigation.

Sciamma captures Hélose’s cloistered experience, emphasizing her sense of imprisonment through silence (she longs to hear an orchestra). This is why an exhilarating chorus of live vocals and handclaps in a signature scene temporarily transports the audience into an ecstatically uncanny reverie unlike anything I’ve ever seen on screen.

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