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Director: Céline Sciamma Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino Running Time: 120 minutes

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“Do all lovers feel like they’re inventing something?”

So whispers the besotted Héloïse in a fit of passion in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The exploration of that spark, that fierce and intense rush of feeling is central to the latest feature by Céline Sciamma, her own work continuing to evolve and innovate in exhilarating fashion here following the “accidental trilogy of youth” that was Water Lilies, Tomboy and Girlhood. Love as shown here between painter Marianne and her subject Héloïse has that feeling of invention, the sudden arrival of something entirely new and brilliant and unique and though what emerges between these two can’t hope to last in the way that they would prefer, the depth of emotion and ideas brought to light by Sciamma and her excellent crew lifts Portrait into so much more than the typical Forbidden Romance.

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November at the Irish Film Institute is always a treat for fans of French cinema and this year is no different. The IFI French Film Festival begins next Wednesday and tickets are selling fast for some of the big titles in this year’s season, running from November 13th – 24th.

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