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| 11 September 2020 | Reply

Written by Scott B Smith from Charles Willeford’s novel
Directed by Guiseppe Capotondi
Starring Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, Mick Jagger
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Set in the rarified air of the high art world, The Burnt Orange Heresy is an intriguing tale with some hard-to-ignore flaws.

Jaded art critic (aren’t we all) James Figueras, played with mercenary desperation by Claes Bang, newly encoupled with enigmatic Berenice Hollis (girl of the moment Elizabeth Debicki), is offered an intriguing proposition by ruthless collector James Cassidy (Mick Jagger).

Invited to Cassidy’s opulent Lake Como villa, the nearly down-and-out Figueras is offered a resurrection to his all-but-deceased career by conducting an interview with reclusively iconic painter Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland in one of his finest recent roles), also staying on the estate. All the pick-me-up-pill-popping Figueras must do in return is procure Debney’s latest work for Cassidy, by any means possible. Refuse, and his own work validating a forgery will be exposed.

Cassidy describes his lakeside residence as a “summer cottage,” though it’s closer to a castle. It’s a giveaway sign that the man is obscenely rich, much like Jagger himself, but from more modest beginnings. Jagger brings Cassidy to life by keeping the character simple. He wants what little he cannot have, and he’s not above skullduggery to get it. Jagger has his detractors but he’s developed into an accomplished actor. I think many people simply cannot separate him from his most famous role, and I admit that it is not an easy task, so typecast is he as the Rolling Stones frontman, a character he has played for over fifty years.

Sutherland is playful and charismatic, even flirting with Hollis, while Figueras’ desperation becomes more and more oblique. When a selfish and heartless crime is committed, events then escalate like a bushfire out of control. Viewers should be warned that shocking crimes are committed that leave Figueras lost and beyond all redemption. Figueras and Cassidy are from vastly different social strata, but both are characters to whom lies and manipulation are everyday tools.

The Burnt Orange Heresy is not a perfect film by any means, but like all important art it promises little nut delivers much. It has depth and doesn’t attempt to explain itself, leaving a lot for the viewer to process after the credits roll.



Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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