Based on Charles Willeford’s novel The Burnt Orange Heresy the film of the same name stars Danish actor Claes Bang as charismatic art dealer James Figueras. The story begins with James speaking to his audience about the importance of an art critics affect on the value of a painting. He explains that the story behind the art is more valuable than the piece itself. The same could be said about the charming and suave James who gets the attention of beautiful young American traveller Berenice Hollis played by Elizabeth Debicki. Berenice is instantly attracted to James who is the perfect distraction from her troubled life back home.
James invites Berenice to join him at the Lake Como estate of wealthy art dealer Joseph Cassidy played by Mick Jagger even though barely knowing each other she readily accepts. Joseph’s motives for the invitation places James in the difficult position of obtaining legendary painter Jerome Debney’s last painting played by Donald Sutherland who lives on the estate behind the main house. The few days they spend at Lake Como opens and creates dark and intriguing secrets for everyone that eventually spirals into fatal consequences.
Claes Band is charming yet stifling at times while the stand out performance comes from the fairly unknown Elizabeth Debicki. Their chemistry on screen adds to the dramatic feel of the film and gives some depth to their characters. Debicki’s energy and mystic adds more interest to the at times slow storyline.
It was interesting and unusual at the same time to see Mick Jagger in an acting role where he plays a wickedly bad guy but also see him throw out that cheeky smile of his. Donald Sutherland’s performance is stellar giving the film that well-rounded credibility that it needs.
The Burnt Orange Heresy is a film that starts with small levels of predictability and a low level of gloss but comes good with the shine towards the middle and end. Directed by Italian Giuseppe Capotondi it’s worth a watch.
Movie Review by Anastasia Lambis