Love is the Devil View large image

Film Details

Directed by: John Maybury

Produced: 1998

Countries & Regions: France, Japan, United Kingdom, United States

DVD Details

Certificate: 18

Studio: British Film Institute

Length: 87 mins

Format: DVD

Released: 25 August 2008

Cat No: BFIVD776

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Love is the Devil

Cast: Tilda Swinton , Derek Jacobi , Anita Pallenberg , Karl Johnson , Daniel Craig , Tracey Emin , David Kennedy , Andy Linden , Adrian Scarborough , Sarah Lucas , Anne Lambton , Annabel Brooks , Richard Newbold , Ariel de Ravenel , Tallulah , Johnnie Shand Kydd , Gary Hume , Pam Hogg , Rifat Ozbek , Jibby Bean , Lucy Ferry

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Derek Jacobi stars as Francis Bacon in this biographical drama about his complex relationship with his lover George Dyer. In 1971, artist... Read More

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Derek Jacobi stars as Francis Bacon in this biographical drama about his complex relationship with his lover George Dyer. In 1971, artist Francis Bacon (Jacobi) is hailed as a genius at a retrospective of his work in Paris. Meanwhile, his younger gay lover George Dyer (Daniel Craig) lies dying from an overdose in their hotel room. Dyer reflects on how he first met Bacon, while attempting to burgle his house in 1964. The pair embarked on a troublesome affair, with Dyer working as Bacon’s model, but the artist’s emotional detachment, and his ever-present coterie of Soho bohemians, place a further strain on the relationship in conjunction with Dyer’s dependence on drink and drugs.

John Maybury’s Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon addresses its subject through fragments of Bacon’s (Derek Jacobi’s) relationship with east-end criminal George Dyer (Daniel Craig) among the high art and low life, the booze and barbiturates, of 1960s Soho. Jacobi—blithe, detached, and thoroughly unsympathetic—is excellent as Bacon, capturing the volatile combination of sexual masochism and emotional sadism that made the relationship with Dyer so destructive, but his portraits of him so powerful. Daniel Craig is appropriately muscular and tormented, and Maybury pulls off the difficult task of making Dyer’s internal anguish chime with the viewer’s memory of Bacon’s paintings (which are themselves never shown). It is in this creative address of one visual media to another that the film is at its best, revealing Bacon’s own acute awareness of the effects of photography upon painting. Much of Maybury’s attention is devoted to the soiled and crumpled snapshots that littered Bacon’s studio floor; to his ambivalent rapport with the work of John Deakin; and one particularly striking scene shows Bacon’s reaction to the Odessa steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin (which inspired many of his studies). Suggestive rather than explanatory, a feast for the mind and an assault on the senses, Love is the Devil provides a frame for, rather than a précis of, Bacon’s compelling art.

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