On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.


Céline Sciamma


Céline Sciamma
655 ( 16)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 57 wins & 152 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Noémie Merlant ... Marianne
Adèle Haenel ... Héloïse
Luàna Bajrami ... Sophie
Valeria Golino ... La Comtesse
Christel Baras Christel Baras ... La faiseuse d'ange
Armande Boulanger ... L'élève atelier
Guy Delamarche Guy Delamarche ... L'homme salon
Clément Bouyssou Clément Bouyssou ... Le batelier
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ramin Namdar ... Ramin Namdar


In 18th century France a young painter, Marianne, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse without her knowing. Therefore, Marianne must observe her model by day to paint her portrait at night. Day by day, the two women become closer as they share Héloïse's last moments of freedom before the impending wedding.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some nudity and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The role of Héloïse was written with Adèle Haenel in mind. See more »


When the shipper boxes up the portrait to send to Italy, he uses wire nails. Wire nails weren't invented until the 1860's. He would have used cut nails. See more »


Héloïse: In solitude, I felt the liberty you spoke of. But I also felt your absence.
See more »


Portrait de la jeune fille en feu
(Bande originale du film)
Para One, Arthur Simonini
See more »

User Reviews

It's a beauty speaking to all lovers.
8 March 2020 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

"When you asked if I had known love. I could tell the answer was yes. And that it was now. "Marianne (Noemie Merlant)

No art form has struggled more to get the depiction of love just right than film. Portrait of a Lady on Fire gets it almost perfect, and it's Sapphic! All you modest types don't need to worry-writer director Celine Siamma stresses the longing and the dance of love much more than its physicality. Two young women spend most of this beautiful romance just getting to the first dance, and the journey is as exciting and anguishing as it was for us in those early years of exploring.

Late 18th century Marianne has been hired to paint young Heloise (Adele Haenel) for her wedding portrait. Not that you can't guess what is going to happen while the first portrait is being painted, but the film languishes long and deep on the glances between these two potential lovers. Those gazes encapsulate the truth of their affections and the high-mindedness of their intentions.

Perhaps the business of painting lends the ethereal quality to their love, which is born of the imagination and fleetingly put on canvas forever. It's just that the slow, loving pace of the camera and the conceit lend a mystery (Will they connect?) and a sweetness (how transforming love can be from a scowl to a smile).

The cinematography, especially of the rugged cliffs and the sea, is well-aligned with the power and danger of their tender love. Not even mother's (Valeira Golino) affection for her remote daughter pales next to the burgeoning passion of the leads.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire fiercely speaks to the fire, conventional or not, that can burn in all of us. Leave it to film to bring out the love in our hearts.

"To love pure and chaste from afar." Man of La Mancha

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Frequently Asked Questions

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French | Italian

Release Date:

14 February 2020 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Portrait of a Lady on Fire See more »

Filming Locations:

Bretagne, France See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$67,344, 8 December 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (as Dolby 5.1)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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