April 14th, 2020 – Supplement

The 1800s must have been a challenging time.  It goes without saying that many times before perceived male and female equality (which we are still battling to this day with equal pay etc, and would likely be the perspective of men rather than women but that is an essay in itself) were challenging times.   A Portrait of a Lady on Fire, tells the tale of women generally through the eyes of three principal women specifically.  One a painter, hired to paint a portrait of another young woman who was about to be married to a man in Milan, and the third a servant who works in the household where they are on an island off the French Normandy coastline.   The movie is in French with English subtitles.  It was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Foreign Film but not the Oscar.   So in the story the mother of the woman to be married wants a portrait painted of her.   The subject refuses to sit for said portrait and the previous attempts have failed.   Mom has decided to bring in a young female painter to befriend the young betrothed woman, and then paint her from memory.   The painter should keep her painting activities secret.   She has six days to complete the task.   The physical beauty of the surroundings adds to the story as the two walk the beach, see the cliffs and talk about life generally.    It starts slowly and builds as it would with strangers over time.   There is a really good scene after the painting is finished where the painter requests from the mother permission to tell her subject what she has done and show her, so as to have her hear it from the painter herself.    The Mother agrees.   The discussion as they view her work is interesting about perspective, and art and attitude.   This leads for other things to happen and the story moves forward from there.    I give nothing away to state that the women have a relationship.  One that will impact them both.   The journey in getting there is a good one.   There is a subplot with the maid in the house.  But for a brief moment in the beginning and at the end there are no men in this movie.  The movie also effectively shows the creative process and the layers of colour that the painter uses to paint the woman, and the dress that she is wearing.  There are elements of The Danish Girl, and The Girl with the Pearl Earring.   On the larger scale this movie shows the time where women were placed, and on the personal side you can see how it directly impacts those living under these conventions and accepted rules.   Choices are made, consequences are felt.   The performances were all well done.   There is a range of emotion that is revealed by one character in the end which was quite stunning to observe.  I enjoyed seeing this and can recommend it.


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