What’s on TV Sunday: ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ and ‘Beef House’

By Sara Aridi

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (2019) Stream on Hulu. Much of this moving love story from the filmmaker Céline Sciamma is told through intense gazes and delicate gestures. Marianne (Noémie Merlant), an artist in 18th-century France, is commissioned to paint a portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a lonely noblewoman who is soon to be married off. The portrait is a gift for Héloïse’s future husband, but she is dreading the wedding and refuses to sit for the painting. So her mother hires Marianne as a companion and asks her to create the artwork in secret after observing Héloïse’s every move. Her looks don’t go unnoticed. The more time Héloïse and Marianne spend alone, the deeper they fall into a passionate affair. The main draw here is the romance, but the movie is also a tale of sisterhood: an examination of women breaking free from the shackles of tradition, class and patriarchy.

ImageMichael B. Jordan, left, and Jamie Foxx in “Just Mercy.”
Michael B. Jordan, left, and Jamie Foxx in “Just Mercy.”Credit...Warner Bros

JUST MERCY (2019) Rent on Amazon. Michael B. Jordan takes on the post-Jim Crow criminal justice system in this legal drama, adapted from the memoir by the lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson. At the outset, Bryan (Jordan), a young Harvard Law School graduate, moves to a small town in Alabama to defend death-row inmates pro bono. He focuses his efforts on Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a prisoner who was accused of murdering a white woman despite a lack of evidence. He initially has little faith that Bryan, or the lawyers that came before him, can change the outcome. Still, Bryan and his team dedicate their time to his case in hopes of winning his trust and setting him free.

BEEF HOUSE 12:15 a.m. Monday on Adult Swim. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the comedy duo behind wacky Adult Swim series such as “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” and its spinoff, “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule,” spoof multicamera sitcoms in this new series. (The first episode debuted a week earlier than planned on Adult Swim’s website, and now it’s hitting the small screen.) Tim plays an aimless musician; Eric is a “stay-at-home husband,” and the two share a house with three other “beef boys” and Eric’s wife. In this premiere, Eric’s Easter egg hunt is ruined when Tim’s old friend from the army stops by and causes a rift in Tim and Eric’s friendship. The duo throw in laugh tracks and oohs and awws from the (fake) audience, which make the show all the more surreal. For more late-night comedy, tune in early to watch THREE BUSY DEBRAS, a new show about three affluent, unhinged housewives that debuts at midnight.

CALL THE MIDWIFE 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The hardworking women of the Nonnatus House nursing convent in London are back for a ninth season. In this premiere, the team face an outbreak of diphtheria and try to find the mother of a baby abandoned in a trash can.