Bishop’s review published on Letterboxd:
After my second viewing of a Portrait of a Lady on Fire, I feel definite in my feelings towards it.
First of all, it is a perfect film and has made it as my #2 spot.
Second of all, the response from various men that I’ve seen try to review this film is absurd. This film was not made for the heterosexual experience. This is one of the only films that I’ve seen that perfectly encapsulates the longing, the direness, the secrecy that is so special to the queer community— and to see it being reduced to a boring love story that pushes the female agenda disgusts me. There are certain extra plot points (I don’t want to spoil, but an example is Sophie’s side story) that is seen as an attempt to further force an agenda.
I don’t think what men understand about this film is that it’s not trying to force anything. This is the female experience. These were prevalent issues in their lives. We don’t watch movies and say they force a male agenda because they center around the gaudiness of masculinity or heteronormative fixtures. This is a film that so delicately balances the female experience and the queer experience, in one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen.
And with an ending that in my opinion is phenomenal, this movie is wrapped up in just utter perfection. Any queer person can watch that ending and perfectly relate to the sorrow, the happiness, the appreciation and the longing that is displayed in the final shot. There are certain aspects, such as the inevitable running out of time, that appear in this movie that will fly over a hetero audience.
I am just pissed at some of the reviews that ignorant men have left, completely ignoring how this is about an experience they only have the privilege to never worry about.
Being a male myself, I can’t speak on the female experience, but what I do notice is the lack of the “male gaze” which is so refreshing. This is something so special, and I am so glad it exists.
As I’m writing this, I’m laying with a candle next to me, and the sounds of the fire on the wick really just pulls me towards that movie and — wow... it’s perfect.