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The Burnt Orange Heresy (15)

Cast: Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Debicki, Claes Bang, Mick Jagger
Genre: Thriller
Author(s): Scott B Smith
Director: Giuseppe Capotondi
Release Date: 30/10/2020 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 98mins
Country: UK/Ita
Year: 2019

Roguish art critic James Figueras gallivants around Europe, armed with a well-rehearsed lecture on the power of persuasion. Following one lecture in Milan, James beds pretty American attendee Berenice Hollis and invites her to accompany him to the sprawling Lake Como estate of art collector Joseph Cassidy. The charismatic host wastes little time offering James a private audience with one of America's greatest living painters, Jerome Debney, who happens to reside in a guesthouse.


 

LondonNet Film Review
The Burnt Orange Heresy (15)

Lying is easy when you tell the truth. That teasing line, spoken by one of the morally ambiguous characters in director Giuseppe Capotondi’s art world thriller, illustrates the silent tug of war between perception and reality at the heart of every human interaction. We accept information on face value and attribute worth based on the opinion of so-called experts rather than trusting our own judgment. The nonsensical title, shared by an unseen painting in the film, is intended to provoke hollow debate. “The critics, those ravenous dogs, can chew on it, searching for meaning,” explains the artist, played with avuncular glee by Donald Sutherland…

The meaning of Scott Smith’s script, adapted from the 1971 novel by Charles Willeford, takes almost an hour to come into focus and the rewards for our patience aren’t particularly bountiful. Claes Bang and Elizabeth Debicki catalyse gently simmering chemistry as fledgling lovers blinded by first impressions opposite an impish Mick Jagger as a connoisseur of beauty, who chews with delight on the film’s meaty one-liners. “Art can be such a harsh mistress, can’t she?” he smirks. One protracted scene – a leisurely drive along a lakeside road – is distracting for the wrong reasons. The driver and passenger spend agonisingly long stretches staring into each other’s eyes and completely ignore the winding road ahead. Logic dictates they should plough into oncoming traffic or plunge off the road into Lake Como.

Roguish art critic James Figueras (Bang) gallivants around Europe, armed with a well-rehearsed lecture on the power of persuasion. To illustrate his point, he invents a fake history for one of his own clumsily composed paintings and convinces small audiences of enraptured American tourists that his handiwork is a masterpiece crafted by a little-known artist in a Nazi concentration camp. Following one lecture in Milan, James beds pretty American attendee Berenice Hollis (Debicki) and invites her to accompany him to the sprawling Lake Como estate of art collector Joseph Cassidy (Jagger).

The charismatic host wastes little time offering James a private audience with one of America’s greatest living painters, who happens to reside in a guesthouse. “Think what a splash it would make – the first critic in more than 50 years to interview Jerome Debney!” tantalises Cassidy. In exchange for this career-revitalising opportunity, Cassidy insists James must procure him a priceless new work signed by Debney (Donald Sutherland).

The Burnt Orange Heresy is a slow-burning game of cat and mouse, which some audiences might playfully equate to watching paint dry. Capotondi maintains a pedestrian pace that makes the 98-minute running time feel considerably longer. A hastily contrived finale, dressed stylishly as a noir thriller, underwhelms despite the sweat-drenched desperation portrayed on screen.

– Jo Planter


London Cinemas Showing The Burnt Orange Heresy


From: Friday 9th April
To: Thursday 22nd April

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From: Friday 23rd April
To: Thursday 29th April

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UK and Irish Cinemas Showing The Burnt Orange Heresy


From: Friday 9th April
To: Thursday 22nd April

No cinema infomation at the moment

From: Friday 23rd April
To: Thursday 29th April

No cinema infomation at the moment