Portrait of Jennie (1948) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Some of the greatest films of all time attain their legacy by being beautiful works of art. After all, filmmaking is a form of art. In fact, the famous notion of a muse inspiring artists have resulted in some of the best artistic compositions of all time, such as when the Muse inspired Homer to write the epic poem The Odyssey. Sometimes art can influence filmmakers, and a perfect example of this is the making of Portrait of Jennie in the late 1940s.

A Toast

This film simultaneously celebrates art while being a compelling work of cinema. Jennifer Jones excels as Jennie even though her performance failed to acquire any major nominations. She still does well nevertheless, especially after winning the Oscar for The Song of Bernadette four years earlier. She was 25 when she won the Oscar, and her performance as young Jennie is still outstanding even though she was 29 during this film’s original release. The film itself is also a black-and-white spectacle that contains paintings and dream-like cinematography to give the film an artistic feel.

Verdict

Jennifer Jones had a long and interesting career that includes playing the infamous Madame Bovary. Even though that notorious heroine has become an iconic figure in both literature and film, some people might not be familiar with the mysterious Jennie. Portrait of Jennie actually does feel like a mystery because it deals with unfathomable concepts, such as the nature of time and space. This film also feels very philosophical given the opening narration that includes quotes from Euripides and John Keats. The actual portrait of Jennie might be just as mysterious as the woman who inspired it, but sometimes the greatest works of art need no explanation. Congratulations to the filmmakers for making a boldly artsy film that asks many questions without offering any easy answers (and that quality itself is why some works of art have endured for so long…).

Portrait of Jennie (1948) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: during every reference to famous classical figures (such as Robert Browning and John Keats)

Drink a Shot: dvery time a drawing or painting appears on-screen

Make Sure You Are Not Sober: during the surreal and enigmatic ending that conclude the last ten minutes of this cinematic work of art.

About Alex Phuong

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