The other French movie that should have been nominated for best international film, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” is an impressive and artful tale of forbidden love.

The story is set in the late 1700s. Painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is called to an isolated island in Brittany for a covert portraiture. Her subject, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), has refused to pose, and Marianne must surreptitiously observe her and paint in private. This tricky assignment also requires that Marianne play the role of Hèloïse’s walking companion. We learn that Hèloïse’s sister has died, leaving her depressed.

As Marianne studies her subject, the two women grow closer. And that bond becomes even more intimate as time passes. Is the burgeoning romance merely the product of Marianne’s intense study of Hèloïse? Or have the two women found love in their isolation?

Similar to the prohibited romantic entanglement of 2017’s Oscar winner “Call Me by Your Name,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is a moving love story that has a unique connection to our times. Given advancements in social mores, society is more open today in many ways than ever before.

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald: