Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998) torrent download

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

1998

Action / Biography / Drama / Romance

6.5

Synopsis

In the 1960s, British painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) surprises a burglar and invites him to share his bed. The burglar, a working class man named George Dyer, thirty years younger than Bacon, accepts. Bacon finds Dyer's amorality and innocence attractive, introducing him to his Soho pals. In their sex life, Dyer dominates, Bacon is the masochist. Dyer's bouts with depression, his drinking, pill popping, and his Satanic nightmares strain the relationship, as does his pain with Bacon's casual infidelities. Bacon paints, talks with wit, and, as Dyer spins out of control, begins to find him tiresome. Could Bacon care less?

Director

John Maybury

Cast

Derek Jacobi
as Francis Bacon
Daniel Craig
as George Dyer
Tilda Swinton
as Muriel Belcher
Anne Lambton
as Isabel Rawsthorne
Adrian Scarborough
as Daniel Farson
Karl Johnson
as John Deakin
Annabel Brooks
as Henrietta Moreas

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Marvin-18 10 /10

Ruthless, peculiar, heart-drenching, fascinating.

Love is the Devil is amazingly rich in character and visuals. Just like Bacon's paintings, it is abstract, provocative, dark, and cruel, yet intensely mesmorizing. Maybury couldn't have picked a better actor than Derek Jacobi to portray the very disturbed Bacon. Jacobi is so good, I wondered whether this was just acting or the real thing. One of my favorite scene was Bacon grooming himself, using ammonia cleanser to brush his teeth and curling his eyelashes with his saliva. Neither could I ever forget the countless enigmatic facial expressions Jacobi delivers. One of the best films I've seen in years.

Reviewed by the red duchess 4 /10

A 'Baconian' study of Bacon in which its hero remains elusive. (possible spoiler in fourth paragraph)

'Love is the Devil' captures one crucial decade in the life of the English painter, Francis Bacon, considered by many, for the half century after World War II, the world's greatest living painter. This decade, the 1960s, is reflected through Bacon's relationship with a young hood, George Dyer, whom he first encounters ineptly breaking into his studio, and whom he immediately sleeps with. A depressive suffering constant nightmares, Dyer is wined and dined by the artist, initiated into his bitchily hostile coterie of friends, and gradually neglected as Bacon concentrates on his work. Many of the astonishing paintings from this period evince a great understanding and love of their principle subject, Dyer, and one friend notices that Bacon puts more effort into representing his love on paint than into the relationship itself. Dyer becomes increasingly suicidal.

Bacon has one of the most distinctive oeuvres in the history of art. Although he absorbed many influences, most obviously Picasso and the Surrealists, a Bacon painting is immediately recognisable. For fifty years, his style barely changed, as he concentrated, compressed and developed a recurring set of obsessive motifs - mangled bodies and distorted, often indistinguishable heads and faces, mouths screaming, against restrained, geometric backgrounds, an ordinary English room, a ritual theatre or circus space etc; an alternation between lurid, violent colours and muted, banal ones; props, such as light bulbs, lavatories, mirrors, meat, especially meat. He was very interested in the fragmentation of the image, the disjunction between subject and reflection, for example, or subject and shadow.

Maybury, also an artist, tries to shoot his narrative in the style of Bacon - the film's subtitle, echoing the artist's own non-emotional, mock-technical practice, is 'Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon'. All the motifs are here - the narrative opens with a hand putting a key in a lock as if the film will provide the key to the enigma of Bacon's life. There are many triple-mirror shots of Bacon, alluding to his favourite form, the triptych. Camera effects try to recreate the state of physical distortion, stretching, blurring, splitting, that characterises Bacon's figures. Dyer's first appearance, falling through a skylight into Bacon's studio, is transformed into one of Bacon's despairing fantasies, Dyer suspended in the dark, falling through a lot more than a roof. Specific paintings are recreated, most successfully in the sex scenes, with their violent, combatorial, yet private and intimate rituals. The bar scenes with Bacon's ghastly friends are a grotesque freakshow.

Whether or not this method works - and I don't think it does: film and painting are mutually exclusive media, the transfer from one to the other is often bathetic - Maybury must eventually settle into a narrative if he wants to keep any kind of an audience. Unfortunately, the need to tell stories was precisely the shackle Bacon wanted to cast off. And so there isn't really a narrative, there is no sense of progress in the central characters' relationship, except that Dyer begins it alive and ends it dead. There is no attempt to give the flavour of their life together. The film only really works if you are familiar with Bacon's work. You can spot the allusions and reworkings. But this doesn't lead to any greater understanding of the work, beyond a hackneyed life-informs-the-art model, one Bacon himself strenuously denied.

This solipsism is thoroughly in keeping with Bacon's art. The film is full of his wisdom, narrated by Jacobi, undigestible when just rattled off. As I have suggested the world is made over completely in his sensibility, even the scenes from which he is absent. This sense of claustrophobic privacy is a major effect of the art - there is little difference between the works of the 1940s and 80s, except perhaps for greater technical skill. Maybury misses an opportunity to put history back into Bacon's ahistorical oeuvre, to rescue him from vague expressions of horror and despair. You would have no idea the film was set in the 1960s, no idea about the major social changes of the time, or even the changes in art appreciation (although the film is mercifully free from homosexual-guilt/fear angst). If you have read a biography of Bacon, as I recently have, much of the film will seem jarring in the way watching 'Casablanca' or reading 'Hamlet' is, anecdotes rendered verbatim, adding to the film's unreal, unhelpful atmosphere.

Reviewed by didi-5 N/A

compelling character portrait

John Maybury's film presents artist Francis Bacon as an uncaring, disturbed, unhinged, genius who used people and life to feed his bizarre artistic talent. Even the way the film is shot (distorted images, odd angles, flashes of colour) shouts 'artist'. Against this backdrop the story of Bacon's life is secondary.

Derek Jacobi plays Bacon, in a radical departure from the work he is best known for - in fact, this film was completed while he was regularly on television as brother Cadfael. He is excellent in a deeply unsympathetic role. Daniel Craig, as his lover, nemesis, and muse, is also very good. Tilda Swinton is the best of a supporting cast of oddball characters.

This film is ultimately frustrating, difficult, and perhaps a pointless exercise as far as giving us any lasting impression of Bacon's character. But, like his well-known paintings, it is snatches of images you will remember.

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