Finally we got a good Alex Rider Adaptation

When I was a kid, I avoided Harry Potter. I still cannot say why but for whatever reason, I read the Alex Rider books instead and I absolutely loved them. I found Alex’s world and pressure he dealt with from the adults around him relatable, and I loved reading about how he could solve almost any problem. However, there has thus far been no good adaptations to introduce other to the world of Alex Rider. Stormbreaker, which came out in 2006 and was based off of the first book of the same name, was unsuccessful. While the movie got the plot mostly correct, it failed to understand who Alex was. It resulted in poor reviews and a seeming death knell for the Alex Rider movie franchise.

However, Alex has been given new life in 2020. The new Alex Rider TV series on IMDb TV and Amazon Prime finally understand Alex Rider. This series finally took him seriously, creating a better character and a better adaptation in the process. It also makes smart decisions about how to adapt the story for TV.

The adaptation combines the beginning of the first book Stormbreaker with the second book Point Blank. This is the first smart decision that the show makes. Point Blank is one of the best books in the series and one of the ones best set for TV. The Point Blanc school is a terrific setting for any spy novel and the show-runners did a phenomenal job.

The show also does an excellent job at establishing who Alex is from the moment he steps on screen. When Tom loses his phone Alex goes and climbs his school building to retrieve it. It is a small scene but it is effective in showing just how capable he is. It’s much better than the scenes in the movie that attempt to tell you why Alex is ready to be a spy. In this, they show.

I also really enjoyed watching how the explains why Alex ultimately became a spy. It is not something he decided to do randomly, just like the books, the decision is organic and forced. At first he is reluctant, but then his sense of duty comes through. He struggles with his own grief and uses that to help those around him. It is part of what makes him a great character, and it is so nice to see a show finally understand who he is.

While the show is a bit too slow at points, it really does everything else well. The show has now been renewed for a second season, which means you can invest in the characters. After years of waiting for Alex Rider to return to the screen. Now, it looks like Alex is here to stay.

Normal People

Normal People is an excellent adaptation of a great book. While the novel by Sally Rooney does plenty right, I actually prefer the show. The show-runners had a great understanding of how to adapt the work, and the result is simply stunning television.

One of the reasons the show elevates the story is that it is extremely well cast. There are plenty of great performances here, but Normal People belongs to Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Connell and Marianne. They both have strong chemistry making their love and attraction believable. They also convey plenty of emotion in just an expression. Without having to hear them say anything, you immediately understand their feelings, be it Connell’s insecurity or Marianne’s anger.

Trailer for Normal People

The direction is also exceptional. Both Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald have a deep understanding of the source material and how to translate that onto the screen. Rather than cram the story into the dialogue, they allow the actors and the visuals to do most of the work. This results in stunning camerawork and incredible performances from everyone involved. Smaller roles like Marianne’s brother, Connell’s friends from high school, Connell’s mother Lorraine, and others all are played extremely well. Their performances go perfectly with the great camerawork, capturing everything with excellent quality. The long and dark views of Irish Coasts, the beautiful houses, the crowded streets of Dublin are all excellent. However, the best shows are when the camera focuses on Connell or Marianne’s face. These moments are where Daisy and Paul are at their absolute best, conveying exactly what the viewer needs to understand.

Normal People is a beautiful adaptation, and while I highly recommend the source material, the show is an excellent substitute. Hulu and BBC did Normal People right, and Sally Rooney should be proud. A

Taste the Nation & Betty

Padma Lakshmi’s new show Taste the Nation on Hulu, is an extremely smart and thoughtful look at American cuisine and the American Experience. She profiles different immigrant communities and how their food shaped our culture. While it very easily could have devolved into stereotypical explanations of immigration, it is really insightful and sincere. She focuses one episode on Mexican immigrants in El Paso and German immigrants in Milwaukee the next. She understands the complexities of the American Experience better than most, and uses that to her advantage.

Trailer for Taste the Nation

Padma is also an excellent interviewer, which elevates the show. She is not concerned with being performative, and focuses on letting her subjects speak. This allows the complexities in each of these communities and situations to come to light, rather than her injecting her preconceived notions into each situation. The nuances and specificity the show gets into with each community allows each to shine. This show is a much needed exploration of the moment our country is in, and the cuisine that inspires it. A-

Trailer for Betty

Very few shows remind me of why I fell in love with skateboarding as a middle schooler. Betty, HBO’s spinoff of Skate Kitchen, does. It is so much fun to be with these girls in New York, watching them skate and navigate a city with surprises on every corner.

It is an ode to living in New York as well as being a teen in a city that is vibrant with activity. It also captures their spirits while also telling important stories. One about police violence and power and another #MeToo story. It does this in a genuine way while still managing to be light on its feet. At six 30-minute episode, it is a low commitment show that is full of excitement. I absolutely love the show and recommend it highly. B+

Melissa King’s Dominance on Top Chef

After another amazing season of Top Chef, a new King has been crowned. Melissa King is your Top Chef!

Not only did she win Top Chef she also won fan favorite, because of course she did. Melissa absolutely dominated the competition winning seven elimination challenges, the most ever for a Top Chef contestant. She did this during an All-Stars season! She also managed to make an Italian butcher cry after eating her dessert in the finale.

She was so calm, confident, and brilliant throughout the season, she quickly became undeniable. She took over the competition towards the end, running away with it challenge after challenge. She managed to combine Chinese and Italian cooking in ways that made sense. She cooked her food in ways that pushed th envelope. She is easily one of the most talented chefs to ever compete on the show.

I have never seen a performance quite as phenomenal as Melissa’s. Just an unreal season from her. This was such a fantastic season but it is fitting that the Melissa King is the new Queen of Top Chef. Congratulations!

Contagion & The Magic of Better Call Saul

Contagion – A movie rarely gets better with age. When Contagion, first came out, it was easy to dismiss. This could not happen here, right? I mean Steven Soderbergh is off his rocker.

I finally got around to watching Contagion and not only it is excellent, it is extremely harrowing. The movie does give the worst version of this virus and the worst version of people’s reactions to the virus. IT is certainly not as bad as COVID-19. It is the similarities and the understanding of how globalization can make this disease possible that help this movie shine.

Contagion Trailer

The first twenty minutes are some of the best and most moving film I have seen this year. Soderbergh does such a good job of showing and cutting. He manages to tell a story of the outbreak and the players involved without it feeling overwhelming. He assumes his viewers are smart but not in need of a lecture. Soderbergh also fills his world with fascinating characters who respond differently to the situation. One reporter who lies about a cure and profits off of people’s pity. Another government official breaks protocol to keep his family safe. These are all very human and understandable, and makes you think about what is important in a crisis.

Many will want to avoid this movie as much as possible. If you can stomach it, this is a must watch. Even if you are unsure, there is something to be gained for everyone. Sometimes we watch things like Top Chef that make us feel comfortable and easy. Sometimes we have to watch things that force us to expand our comfort zone. This is one of those movies, and I am imploring you now to watch it. A

You’ve heard of the Cayman Islands right? Jesus!

Kim Wexler, S5 E9

I did not start watching Breaking Bad until this year. I loved the show, but something felt a bit off. It was just more basic than I was expecting. I expected the show to be exceptionally subversive, instead what I got was bringing the anti-hero to its logical conclusion. It is an excellent show, but I left wanting more.

Spoiler Alert! Do not watch the video if you do not want to have spoilers.

As a result, I went into Better Call Saul with low expectations. Breaking Bad left me a bit unsatisfied, so I did not that a prequel would be any better. I had heard good things, but just did not think the show could be any different or any better than Breaking Bad. As a character, I was not that attached to Saul Goodman to begin with. I just found him to be lacking at times, especially for a comic relief character. I assumed the prequel would be a bad attempt at a spinoff at best. By some miracle, Better Call Saul managed to not just avoid that, but become one of the best TV shows ever. It turned Jimmy/Saul/Gene into one of the most tragic figures on Television. It created new characters that are more captivating than some of the best from the original show, and added depth to characters from the old show in ways that help you understand them better. The show is a miracle, and in its fifth season, it became better than its predecessor.

The show has to not only defy expectations but truly revolutionize the idea of the antihero. Walter White became incredibly hard to root for, especially after the second season. The other characters were excellent, but Walter was never hard for me to root against. Jimmy/Saul is so much harder to root against. He is so charming and funny, and his anger become understandable early on. It also becomes hard to root against other characters. The show suggests that everyone in Walter’s orbit breaks bad, and it makes their fate that much harder to watch.

It also manages to weave in new characters who are just as if not more compelling than there older counterparts. Lalo, Nacho, and Kim Wexler add new twists and excitement to a show that should be spoiler-proof. What happens to these characters become a reason to watch and become the most thrilling parts of the show. Kim especially, as she becomes Jimmy/Saul’s equal. I have never cared for a fictional character more than I care for Kim. It is easy to understand why she acts the way she does, and the inevitable downfall that is coming makes it all the more painful.

Many will still not want to watch a show about a lawyer, no matter how much they loved Breaking Bad. Regardless of how much you liked Breaking Bad, you owe it to yourself to watch Better Call Saul. It has taken the blueprint of Breaking Bad and turned it into a masterpiece of television.

Top Chef S17 E11 – Champagne Padma and Killer Melissa

This week saw Champagne Padma came out in full force.

Champagne Padma is a queen we do not deserve. When the world is no longer ending, can I fly with you? Please?

Outside of Padma’s drunkenness, In the quickfire challenge, the chef’s had to cook an airplane meal. Melissa won with cold tofu. She’s a wizard. Then in the elimination challenge they had to remake a dish from Michael’s Santa Monica, a famous restaurant known for inventing California Cuisine. Melissa won again with a Quail dish. With that, let’s dive right in!

Knives Packed

Brian Malarkey

Brian Malarkey | Top Chef

A wise man once said:

Courtesy of the Biden Campaign

It is sad to see Malarkey go! After landing in the middle of the quickfire, he got screwed. He got a veal loin/sweetbread dish with truffles. It is not a bad draw but he tried to make it two dishes on one plate. On top of that, his servers brought the food to the wrong table. Malarkey, who always seemed perkier than everyone else, was suddenly flustered.

That led to him losing his cool at judges’ table. He nearly volunteered himself out before Gregory talked him out of it. He knew he was going him, as it would have been unfair to eliminate Gregory because of how good he has been this competition. Since both were basically equally bad, they went with the worst chef, not the worst dish. It is unfortunate but he has been the wild card throughout this competition, so it is not surprising to see him go. It is impressive nearly made it to the finale. Bravo Brian Malarkey, thanks for the fun times.

Power Rankings

5. Stephanie Cmar

Stephanie Cmar | Top Chef

Stephanie had another good week, finishing in the top 2 in the elimination challenge. So why is she so low? This is an incredibly strong group, truly anyone’s game at this point. I have to believe that although she would be the frontrunner in a different season, she is probably the least likely to win.

That being said DO NOT SLEEP ON MY GIRL. She has shown that she has the chops to win. Her take on the asparagus agnolotti with scallops was delightful. This is coming off of her strong showing last week which won her a trip to the olympics.

She also the Champagne Padma quote. That is killer instinct right there! I love Stephanie and will pull for her for fan favorite if she cannot win the competition.

4. Kevin Gillespie

Top Chef's Kevin Gillespie Had Renal Cancer Before Season 17 ...

Kevin was in the top 3 throughout the season before falling on his sword. Getting back through an intense Last Chance Kitchen was impressive. He made a great dish and did what he had to do to move on. I want to put him back a bit just due to his absence from the competition. But again, a strong dish and a strong chef. Should fair well but this is anyone’s ballgame. Even the frontrunners have shown themselves to be vulnerable. This is what Top Chef is all about!

3. Gregory Gourdet

Gregory Gourdet | Top Chef

Gregory was the consensus number one for a bit now. Unfortunately he really dropped the ball this week. If he was in Judges’ Table with any other chef, he might have gone home.

He did not have a tough week last week but he struggled to crack the top for the first time in awhile. He finished in the bottom group for the second straight week. For that reason, he is below daddy Bry.

2. Bryan Voltaggio

TOP CHEF -- "It's Like They Never Left!" Episode 1701 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennifer Carroll, Melissa King, Joe Sasto, Jamie Lynch, Kevin Gillespie, Bryan Voltaggio -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo)

Daddy Bry has been on a slow roll this season. But he seems to be finding his groove. Three weeks in a row with one elimination challenge win and one finish in the winner’s circle.

The preview for next week’s episode tried to sell the fact that he would probably be the next to go home. However, knowing what I know now without having watched that, he is a strong chef and heating up at the right time. Daddy Bry might just have a few more tricks up his sleeve.

1. Melissa King

Melissa King | Top Chef

I called her the Ned Stark of the competition. This week, she was unimpeachable. She absolutely killed it in both challenges. What she lacks in competitive fire, she makes up for with pure talent and ease. The coolest customer is moving onto the finale, and is in a great spot to win it all. Just remember to play the game Melissa and this is your season to win!

Fan Favorite Moment

Champagne Padma – Stephanie gets all the credit for coining this.


Until next week!

Top Chef Week 10: Olympics Edition

Last week’s episode of Top Chef was an Olympic theme. I, too, am old enough to remember when we were supposed to have the Olympic games. Melissa won a blindfolded dessert Quickfire challenge, and Stephanie took home the elimination challenge and tickets to the Olympics with an ingenious dessert. Karen was eliminated for a duck dish, and could not pull through in Last Chance Kitchen. Kevin Gillespie, came back in Last Chance Kitchen and re-entered the competition.

Knives Packed

Karen Akunowicz – Although the name Karen became a meme online during this season, Karen bucked the trend. A terrific chef and take no prisoners competitor, she was told to pack her knives and go for a second time this season. She was sent to Last Chance Kitchen once and came out on the other side. Now, she has been sent home again for a good dish. It is disappointing to see her go, as I was rooting for her. Kevin beating her in Last Chance Kitchen is not necessarily surprising, but it still hurts to see her go. It is sad, but I am glad someone on TV could be the Karen we need in our world. Good work Karen! Where she’s from they call her chef too!

Power Rankings

6. Brian Malarkey

I am amazed that Malarkey has managed to make it this far, but he also deserves some credit. He has been able to use his front of house and business skills to make his way further than we expected, but he may be running out of tricks. He did not have a bad week, but it certainly could have gone better. He has only been on the winning end in Restaurant Wars, and has been in the bottom five times, including two weeks in a row. He is the wild card remaining, so it is not impossible that he can come back. I think this next week could be his last.

5. Stephanie Cmar

Stephanie had a huge week. It started at the beginning of the episode with a story about her brother. It was fan favorite material, and she cried through it with Gregory. While that kind of foreshadowing can go both ways, thankfully it went positively. In the blindfolded part of the elimination challenge, she was able to sniff and correctly guess the most ingredients. Even though she did not win, she absolutely killed it in the elimination challenge. Their challenge was to make a Kaiseki meal, and she made a panna cotta inside of a lemon. Did someone say “Chef’s kiss?” Kaiseki is abut simplicity and emphasis on nature. It is hard to nail the challenge as well as Stephanie.

So why is she so far back? Mainly because she has struggled throughout the competition. This week was her first elimination challenge win, and she has only won one other Quickfire. While she certainly has the capability to challenge for the Top spot, she still looks to be on the outside looking in.

4. Kevin Gillespie

We all knew Kevin would be back. After being in top 3 for most of the competition, he slipped up during Restaurant wars for making questionable decisions while running his restaurant. Those questionable decisions and weeks in Last Chance Kitchen are keeping him out of the top 3 for now, but I think Kevin should pick up right where he left off. Kevin is one of the strongest in the competition, and I think he is going to be dangerous as the competition continues.

3. Bryan Voltaggio

Daddy Bry is starting to find his groove. He moved through the middle for most of this season, but he has started to slowly pick it up. Elimination challenge win last week, and in the top again this week with a nice Kaiseki appetizer. Bryan has the chops for this competition. The question is whether he can beat out those around him.

2. Melissa King

Melissa is truly the Ned Stark of this competition. After winning the Quickfire she was given a huge advantage: she could pick not only the course she would be serving in a Kaiseki six-course meal, but what everyone else was responsible for. Instead of using this to her advantage, she gave everyone what they wanted. She went onto explain that she believed she wanted everyone to serve their best meal and that everyone could be judged fairly she would be okay with going home. This came after last week in the campfire challenge where she let everyone else stomp all over her for ingredients while she just took what was remaining and made a bad salad.

Melissa is one of the most talented chefs in the competition. She might even be the most talented this season. She is going to need to play the game if she wants to win. To quote Herm Edwards, “you play to win the game!” So play it! It comes with the territory.

  1. Gregory Gourdet

Greg had a rough week, but even his bad days are my good days. He continues to be the best in the competition, and is still a lock for me to make it to finale.I just want his jacket. Is that too much to ask?

Best Padma Look

Top to bottom Denim look. I am into it.

Fan Favorite Moment

Stephanie talking about her brother. To see her genuinely shaken by it in the morning and then killing both challenges after that. Just unreal. My pick at the moment.

What I have been reading and Watching

Hi everyone. I have read and watched too much during these past couple weeks to write about, so I thought it would be best to put some of my favorite things I watched and read in a post. Let me know if you have other suggestions.


The Crying Game – The Crying Game¬†is a bizarre story, but is surprisingly effective. Stephen Rea is the main reason I decided to watch this film. He was married to prominent IRA activist Dolours Price. The film takes some incredibly weird turns, but I am surprised by how affecting I found the film to be. It’s on Netflix and I would recommend if you are really bored. B-

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon –¬†Ang Lee’s beautiful film about sacrifice and growth is still quite good. The performances here are great, but the film is mainly about the cinematography and choreography of the fights. It is excellent and a really fun watch. I think this movie definitely could have more to say, but it is a really well-made film. B


Hillary –¬†The Hulu docuseries is an interesting look at Hillary’s life. The documentary is divided into two parts: the 2016 election and a chronological look at her past. I found the latter to be more interesting, as they ask tough questions about her time as a first lady and show how important she is as an American figure she is. The 2016 election is less interesting to me, but it is through no fault of their own. It simply has been rehashed and debated too much.

The documentary is certainly biased toward Hillary, but it does a good job of giving counters to many of her assumptions. This is a film that is dedicated to her story, so naturally, she will look more sympathetic than others. However, I think this is a good docuseries, that understands the subject. For anyone with a passing interest in politics, you should watch. B

Devs –¬†This is probably the best show I have seen on the nature of free will. Too often shows that tackle these subjects aim for complexity. This show aims for slow understanding. The showrunner is Alex Garland, who wrote¬†Ex Machina and¬†Annihilation, two films that I adore. Devs is a slow-burn, but it is too the show’s benefit. Its approach gives it time to analyze the ideas behind the show, and give it a melancholic feel necessary to the story. I cannot describe the show without giving away important details, but if any of these topics interest you, watch it.¬†A-

Breaking Bad – The hallmark show is definitely overrated, but is still a great watch. The ending is phenomenal, and while certain sections of this show lag,¬†Breaking Bad¬†really becomes a beautiful study on what lurks beneath. Every performance in this show is excellent, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul are the two standouts to me. Bryan Cranston is obviously terrific as well. While¬†The Wire¬†is still the best show of all time in my book, this is a great watch and should be on everybody’s list.¬†A-

The Leftovers –¬†This is peak pandemic watching. The premise of the show is that 2% of the world’s population disappears all at once. The story picks up three years later, as people are left to try to figure out what happened and avoid it happening again. This is not a show interested in explanations, but rather in how people deal with and attempt to explain the unexplainable.¬†The Leftovers¬†loves ambiguity and uncertainty, which will frustrate plenty of viewers. Nevertheless, I think it is beautiful. I still have one more season to go, but I cannot recommend it enough. If you are into bleak storytelling, it is hard to get bleaker than this. Damon Lindelof is the head writer, and he does a phenomenal job. A terrific watch and my only regret may not be rating it highly enough after the final season.

The Plot Against America –¬†One of my favorite books is now an HBO miniseries. David Simon and Ed Burns, the men behind The Wire, recreated the alternative history into an extremely real story of not doing the right thing when needed. Simon and Burns nail the characters, and the performers really bring the nuance forward. It is a necessary tale of anti-semitism and of poor leadership in times of crisis. Sounds familiar?

Mrs. America – The first three episodes of this show dropped on Hulu a few days ago, and all of them were excellent. The story about the figures in the women’s liberation movement is a terrific story about how women fought to gain respect amongst their colleagues on both sides of the feminist movement. ¬†I will have more as the show continues, but a great watch as well.

Top Chef –¬†Top Chef is the best. I love it. It’s just so fun. If you need a cooking show fix, this is the one. Fun, fast, and incredibly high stakes,¬†Top Chef¬†is what every cooking game show hopes to be. It is terrific. Watch it. Seriously.


Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe – The definitive book on the troubles in Northern Ireland. A searing account of the violence and anger that defined generations of violence. It is a terrific and well-researched story.

A Dance with Dragons –¬†The last of the Game of Thrones books. I have read many books in between when I have gotten bored, but this is one of the most entertaining books of the series thus far. I cannot wait to let you know what I think of the conclusion!

Goodfellas, Avatar & Korra

Goodfellas –¬†Martin Scorsese’s crime masterpiece is the best the genre has to offer. Ray Liotta stars as Henry Hill, a real-life throughout the 70s and 80s. The movie opens with Hill, Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), and James Conway (Robert De Niro) stabbing a man in the back of their trunk. You then hear Hill narrate that he had “always wanted to be a gangster.”

That moment sets the tone up for the film perfectly. This is not about a good man who gets sucked into a life of crime. This about someone who wanted to be a gangster and who enjoyed being a gangster. There may have been less glamourous parts, but he wanted this lifestyle and he enjoyed it.

At no point is Henry Hill a good person. He acts for himself and his own interests, and while you root for him in some sense, it is very clear what type of person you are dealing with. Goodfellas asks questions about what type of people get into this profession and what lengths people will go to protect their friends and ultimately themselves. 

Scorsese is a master at crafting a story about men in power struggles and what that reveals about them as people. The performances from the cast are great, but this is a movie about the writing and it shines. A must-watch that is now on Netflix. A-

I had a twitter thread recently about some shows and things I have been enjoying during the lockdown. Avatar: The Last Airbender¬†(Avatar)¬†and The Legend of Korra (Korra) were both high up on my list. Both are phenomenal in separate ways. Avatar is a kids’ show and can be a bit tough to get through for an adult. The Fire Nation starts out as a bogeyman and it can be exhausting with the dialogue being so kid-friendly. Once you get through the first half of the first season, the show becomes magical. The show matures greatly throughout its three seasons, and by the end is an epic tale of friendship and adventure. This is the type of television I wish I could have watched as a kid.

Korra is for young teens and adults, and the sequel to the series. Whereas Avatar is about defeating an enemy throughout the three seasons, Korra is four different stories about growth and change. Korra is much darker in tone, but still excellent. It also explores political themes in an interesting way and builds on the fantasy world created for Avatar in interesting ways.

Both shows are great examples of fantasy television. They offer great adventure and find time to explore deep themes within the characters. They are both terrific shows and ones that I recommend for anyone looking for enjoyment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay Safe everyone!

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a beautiful film

*The following post contains spoilers for Portrait of a Lady on Fire*

Portrait of a Lady on Fire opens with a blank canvas. Paint streaks the white background, as Marianne then tells her students to focus on her. The blank canvas appears throughout the movie, a motif of discovery. While I’d be the first to admit that a film about a Lesbian romance would not be at the top of my must-watch list, Portrait of a Lady on Fire shocked me with its beauty and brilliance. It is a beautiful film that covers many topics, from navigating gender roles to the meaning of love. At its core, it is a story of how art can help us discover what we love and who we love.

The film centers on the developing love between Marianne and Heloise in the 18th century. Marianne is assigned to paint a portrait for Heloise, a daughter of an elite family living on an island off of the French Coast. If Heloise’s suitor likes Marianne’s painting of Heloise, he will marry her. At first, Marianne is told to keep her task a secret, as Heloise exhausted the last painter and refused to pose for him. Eventually, Marianne tells Heloise that she is painting her and Heloise agrees to pose for Marianne. As the painting becomes more realized, their intimacy and compassion for each other grow.

This movie is in part meant to change and play with the idea of the male gaze, but for me, this movie is mostly about the creative process. After Marianne is done painting the first painting of Heloise, she eventually fesses up that she is secretly painting her and shows the painting to Heloise. The painting is very basic, and while well-made, does not really capture Heloise’s essence. Heloise criticizes Marianne for the painting, telling her it is sad Marianne cannot even find the painting creative or personal. Marianne then destroys the painting for herself, because she knows she can do better.

During the second attempt to paint her, there is a great scene where Marianne and Heloise begin to see how close they have become. Marianne notes Heloise’s common behaviors from the view of the painter, and Heloise then tells Marianne similar small details about her behaviors. The implication is that both begin to understand each other through the creative process. The task of painting is not just the painter understanding the subject, but the subject understanding the painter as well.

As Marianne and Heloise spend more time together, they not only fall in love but create a society that is impossible elsewhere. Part of their ability to do this is because Heloise lives on a remote island, and after the first attempt to paint Heloise fails, her mother leaves, leaving Marianne, Heloise, and their maid Sophie by themselves. It allows them to navigate their roles and society differently.

Watching both Heloise and Marianne come to the realization they will never see each other again is so painful, and so brilliantly executed it is hard to not be moved otherwise. At one point Heloise is reading the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The story ends with Orpheus looking back towards Eurydice as they are escorting her out of the underworld, breaking his promise and leaving her stuck there. The maid Sophie upon hearing this is incredulous, believing that Orpheus damned her for no reason other than his selfishness. Heloise and Marianne interpret it differently, saying that he chose the memory of her. Marianne goes on to say that he made “the poet’s” rather than the lover’s choice.

I tend to agree with Sophie in this regard, as all Orpheus had to do was wait. But Sophie and Marianne are trying to make sense of what will happen once their time together is over, and Marianne has to leave the island. How will they choose to remember each other? They know that they may never see each other again so they do not have a choice. As Marianne begins to leave, Heloise beckons her to look back and she does. Marianne and Heloise make the poet’s choice.

The ending of the film makes it clear that while Marianne and Heloise can wish to be together, it would be almost impossible in 18th century France. They have no other choice but to make the poet’s choice. They continue the memory of each other even when society will not allow them too.