November 23, 2019 at 5:27 am EST | by John Paul King
Cannes Queer Palm winner set for wide release in US
Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant in ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ (Image courtesy of NEON)

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the highly lauded winner of the Queer Palm prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is getting a wider release than originally planned.

The lush period romance was edged out of the competition to become France’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Oscar, but the movie’s US distributor, NEON, remains confident enough in filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s lesbian love story to book it for the kind of wide release that few non-English-language films receive.

The Cannes contender is set for limited one-week theatrical run next month in Los Angeles and New York, standard operating procedure for most “arthouse” movies before they make the jump to streaming and home video formats. That release will still begin on December 6, as originally planned, but NEON has announced it will now also roll out “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”  in wide release – that means everywhere – on Valentine’s Day 2020, the perfect date to entice cinemaphiles with a taste for romance on a holiday devoted to love.

NEON’s official synopsis for the film reads: “In 18th century France, a young painter, Marianne (Noémie Merlant), is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) without her knowing. Therefore, Marianne must observe her model by day to paint her portrait at night. Day by day, the two women become closer as they share Héloïse’s last moments of freedom before the impending wedding.”

In addition to winning the Queer Palm at Cannes, the movie, which is Sciamma’s fourth feature, was also awarded the festival’s Best Screenplay award. It has been exceptionally well-reviewed, and holds an impressive 98% critics’ approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In announcing their new release plan for the widely-anticipated queer romance, NEON also dropped a new teaser trailer.

You can also watch the original, longer US trailer below.

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