In eighteenth century France, talented painter Marianne (Merlant) is hired by a Comtesse (Golino) to complete a delicate assignment. Traveling by boat to the lady’s home on a remote island, Marianne must befriend the Comtesse’s shy, stunningly beautiful daughter Heloise (Haenel), who is about to enter an arranged marriage and has an understandable case of the jitters. Then, having memorized her features by day, Marianne must surreptitiously paint Heloise’s portrait at night. The two young women form an intense connection that soon becomes romantic. How will this forbidden passion play out, and will Marianne ever complete that portrait?
Director/writer Sciamma has crafted a highly sensual, visually sumptuous film, with two impossibly attractive and talented performers at its center. Merlant’s Marianne is a dark beauty who has seen more of life and must work to survive, while Haenel’s fair Heloise is sheltered like a precious flower. Going from tentative to torrid, their romance offers each a temporary respite from the strictures they face in society. Suffice it to say that the title of this French gem fully delivers on its promise. Allons-y!