Zach's 10 Favorite Movies: (Honorable Mention) Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)


"Tourner autour (Turn around)" - Héloïse


When I was in high school, we took a trip to San Francisco. It was a combined Dad's birthday, my birthday, and father's day trip at the end of that June. These were long days with tons of walking and so when we could, we'd get on the streetcar and have a seat. The weekdays had many people, but as we neared the weekend, people would pack into the car and there would be a lot of jostling.


I was utterly exhausted one of these evenings and as I completely zoned out in my seat, my hand left the pole I'd been clinging to. At a jolt, I was awakened and I grabbed at the pole, accidentally wrapping my hand around someone else's. I let go and looked up in apology. The woman with short, cropped gray hair and glasses smiled down at me. She patted my hand letting me know it was O.K. and then leaned into her partner, a taller woman with short, cropped black hair, who pulled her in closer.


I think a lot about these two women. I used to think of them when ever I'd heard an argument against gay adoption. I'd think of them whenever I'd heard an argument against gay marriage. I thought of them when we learned of the supreme court decision to make same sex marriage legal in all 50 states. I thought of them when I came out to my own friends and family. I think of them when I watch Portrait of a Lady on Fire.


This is a great film to start this series with because it helps to solidify the theme of all the films on the list. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is about a deep sense of longing. I recognize that I have intense longing and yearning in my heart. Most of that longing comes from wishing to be seen as Marianne sees Héloïse and how Héloïse sees Marianne.

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