The lesbian gaze in Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019)

The Guardian contributor Róisín Tapponi writes that Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) eschews the male gaze in favor of “the lesbian gaze.” The film stars Noémie Merlant as the liberated Marianne, an artist secretly commissioned to paint a portrait of the sexually repressed Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) until the two women fall in love with each other. According to Tapponi, the difference between the male gaze and the lesbian gaze is touching versus looking – where male-directed lesbian romances are full of gratuitous sex, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is more about sensuality as well as intimacy.