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‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ is instantly iconic queer cinema (review)

Last weekend’s Oscar ceremony was with rife with performative feminism and corporate self-flagellation, empty acts of atonement from the Academy to compensate for not nominating more films created by women. In one of the ceremony’s most obnoxious moments, Brie Larson, Gal Gadot and Sigourney Weaver, who have played superheroes on screen, were brought on stage to declare all women superheroes in a year when the Academy nominated none of them for directing Oscars, despite so many deserving the honor.

That’s relevant to French director Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (★★★★★ out of five; rated R; in theaters Friday) for the obvious reason: Despite its brilliance and Cannes Film Festival win for best screenplay and nomination for the top prize, the Palme d’Or, “Portrait” wasn’t nominated for a single Oscar. But it’s also relevant to the substance of a film exploring the boundaries of female self-actualization – in love and art – in a world that erects so many boundaries around it.

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