The Burnt Orange Heresy
Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, Mick Jagger
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…stylish thriller cum heist movie… could be pretentious but it is always undercut by the self-mocking knowingness of the characters.
Setting any film in Northern Italy is a visual bonus and it particularly suits tales about art and beauty. This stylish thriller cum heist movie looks great. It also has a great cast and should do solid business in this rather dour time. The director Giuseppe Capotondi hasn’t done that much of note but, on this showing, he could be a director to watch.
The film’s main character is James Figueras (the handsome Danish actor Claes Bang) and he opens up proceedings by giving a slick public lecture on art. It establishes early on that the value of paintings is often dependent upon their provenance and particularly on the reputation of the artist. Similar work could be worthless or worth millions and often only those in the know can tell.
When James gets an invitation from dandyish millionaire Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger giving a restrained performance) to go to Italy he is more than intrigued. He has just had a fling with willowy blonde Berenice Hollis (Elizabeth Debicki) who has attended his lecture and promptly bedded him. He decides to take Berenice along as decorative cover. The main bait for James is that the millionaire dangles the prospect of meeting the brilliant painter Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland). Debney has been a recluse for fifty years living in the grounds of Joseph’s splendid villa so any contact would be the art writer’s scoop of the century.
Once all the characters are in the same place, the game of cat and mouse can begin. Debney is suave but slightly lecherous (Sutherland is perfect casting). Berenice is wan and flirtatious but smart. James (who has a weakness for popping pills) is keeping up appearances and thinks he is in total control of everything, but it turns out not to be as simple as that.
The script contains lots of chat about art and life. This could be pretentious but it is always undercut by the self-mocking knowingness of the characters. Nothing is quite what it seems, but mostly they like it like that. The film takes a few sharp turns which requires the audience to stay awake. The ending is also satisfyingly unsatisfying… that statement in itself doesn’t make any sense, until you see the film.