Friday, September 28, 2007

Love is the Devil

Not an easy movie to watch as is an accurate biopic of British painter Francis Bacon, known to be ultra-queer, a masochist sexually and a sadist when relating with others. The movie focuses on his relationship with petty criminal George Dyer who became his lover during the 1960’s. That’s the story the movie tells, but much more happens with images, scenarios and the way the camera is used.

I'm sharing an excerpt from an article, so you can understand how this movie is made and how similar is to Bacon’s paintings.

"Director John Maybury was denied access to Bacon's violent and disturbing pictures by his estate. Instead, the film ingeniously recreates motifs and compositions from the artist's work in cinematic terms. Thick, curved glass filters twist and distend the figures on screen, bodies are trapped within strange geometric shapes, or refracted by mirrors into widescreen triptychs. Within the narrative, the nightmarish quality of Bacon's oeuvre is contained inside the troubled mind of George Dyer (Daniel Craig), an East End petty crook who became Bacon's lover, tormentor and model for an extended period during the 1960s. Dyer's outward strength and inner fragility make him the perfect tragic muse; he is dissected and ultimately destroyed by the artist's penetrating gaze. But the film holds back from a sentimental approach to Dyer's suicide, presenting his death in enigmatic fragments wilfully reminiscent of Bacon's imagery. Love Is The Devil therefore represents a rare cinematic victory for the aesthetic over the emotive."

The movie can be called disturbing, grotesque, strange, etc. but if you call it that way is because you are not familiar with Bacon’s paintings; if you are familiar and you call his paintings like that, then you are absolutely right, as the movie is a brilliant succession of cinematic interpretations of Bacon’s paintings in constant movement –without really being copies of Bacon’s paintings- while copying some Bacon’s photographs, like the one in the left from Bruce Bernard from 1984 called Francis Bacon seated in his studio. Very interesting technique and brilliant result.

Derek Jacobi brilliantly plays Francis Bacon, Daniel Craig is excellent as George Dyer and unrecognizable Tilda Swinton plays Muriel Belcher.

This movie won 7 awards and had 2 nominations in festivals and awards around the world, also was an official selection of the Un Certain Regard section at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.

Absolutely not for all audiences, this is a rare and very good UK art house film, with a very avant-garde feel that collides with experimental cinema.

No comments yet