Love Is The Devil: Study For A Portrait Of Francis Bacon

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Overview

This British biographical drama probes the life of painter Francis Bacon 1909-1992, critically acclaimed as the outstanding British painter of the latter half of the 20th Century. This unsympathetic portrait of Bacon Derek Jacobi begins when George Dyer Daniel Craig, a small-time criminal from working-class East End environs, drops through a skylight to rob Bacon's studio -- and is ordered into bed by Bacon. The two become a familiar couple at Bacon's hangout, the Colony Room in Soho. Bacon's sexual interests ...
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Overview

This British biographical drama probes the life of painter Francis Bacon 1909-1992, critically acclaimed as the outstanding British painter of the latter half of the 20th Century. This unsympathetic portrait of Bacon Derek Jacobi begins when George Dyer Daniel Craig, a small-time criminal from working-class East End environs, drops through a skylight to rob Bacon's studio -- and is ordered into bed by Bacon. The two become a familiar couple at Bacon's hangout, the Colony Room in Soho. Bacon's sexual interests lean toward S&M, but as the cruel Bacon loses interest in Dyer and begins to look elsewhere, the couple splits. Left to his own devices, Dyer turns to drugs and alcohol -- and a tragic suicide. Visual grotesqueries and a trancelike Ryuichi Sakamoto music score capture the essence of Bacon's work although paintings by Bacon are not seen onscreen here. The film is told in the form of a flashback from Bacon's successful 1971 retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris to a period in the mid-'60s. Bacon biographer Daniel Farson The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon served as consultant on the film.
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Special Features

Commentary with Director John Maybury & actor Derek Jacobi; Original theatrical trailer; Other Strand Releasing Trailers
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
The life of Francis Bacon may have been too vast, turbulent, and dark to be made into a film, but this sketch of a brief period of his life encounters its own problems. The film's limitations are two-fold: there are no finished Bacon paintings on view (presumably, rights were too expensive or difficult to obtain), and Bacon is not going to come off well, given the outcome of this episode, an affair with burglar George Dyer. What director John Maybury and his colleagues try to accomplish is a quick submersion in Bacon's world, alternating between scenes of him in a frenzy, painting in his studio, and of nights at his favorite bar, the Colony Room, where the great man held court with a gallery of grotesques right out of a Fellini film. As a couple, Bacon and Dyer are reminiscent of playwright Joe Orton and his lover, Kenneth Halliwell (as portrayed by Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina, in Prick Up Your Ears), with the artist heaping abuse on his slow-witted lover until said lover snaps. But Orton's own torment over hiding his sexual preference made him a figure of some sympathy; here, Derek Jacobi's Bacon is so sadistic, that, in the absence of any screen evidence of his powerful art, we are forced to presume his greatness and forgive (or allow) him sins of neglect and abuse. Ultimately, this is a sketch that only works as such.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/20/2015
  • UPC: 712267342037
  • Original Release: 1998
  • Rating:

  • Source: Strand Home Video
  • Language: English, English
  • Time: 1:30:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 1,388

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Derek Jacobi Francis Bacon
Daniel Craig George Dyer
Tilda Swinton Muriel Belcher
Anne Lambton Isabel Rawsthorne
Adrian Scarborough Daniel Farson
Karl Johnson John Deakin
Annabel Brooks Henrietta Moraes
Richard Newbold Blond Billy
Technical Credits
John Maybury Director, Screenwriter
Annie Symons Costumes/Costume Designer
Takashi Asai Executive Producer
Paul Davies Sound/Sound Designer
Daniel Farson Consultant/advisor
Ben Gibson Executive Producer
Daniel Goddard Editor
Patrice Haddad Executive Producer
Ken Lee Sound/Sound Designer
Alan Macdonald Production Designer
John Mathieson Cinematographer
Chiara Menage Producer
Deborah Saban Asst. Director
Ryuichi Sakamoto Score Composer
Frances-Anne Solomon Executive Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    'Nightmares...can't be as horrific as real life.'

    Returning to films remembered from the past is a fortunate aspect of owning DVDs. LOVE IS THE DEVIL: STUDY FOR A PORTRAIT OF FRANCIS BACON is an art film that belongs in the collection of all those who admire the great British artist. One of the aspects of this film that makes it so powerful is revealed in the latter part of the title: many of Bacon's paintings were names 'Studies for...' and what writer/director John Maybury has created here are the impulses or stimuli that probably are close to the visual and visceral seeds resulting in the canvases of Bacon.

    Rather than a biography of Bacon, LOVE IS THE DEVIL is episodic, attempting to recreate some of the situations that focused the mind of the man who created such grossly distorted creatures that ranged from the Pope to athletes, to portraits of his friends, to highly charged images of his long term physical ally, George Dyer. The camera pulls in and out of focus just the way Bacon's paintings do and instead of replicating Bacon's actual works, the film merely suggests the nidus that began the ideas: there are extended periods of Bacon, all dressed up for his smarmy nights on the dark side of town, turning from side to side, in and out of focus, not unlike his triptychs of Self Portraits.

    Fully in charge of this 'study' of the genius is Derek Jacobi in a brilliant portrayal of the strange man who would become England's most honored painter. He has managed to discover myriad gestures and rituals like Bacon and whether he is in his infamous filthy studio or at The Colony bar he simply IS Francis Bacon. Balancing the needs and fragility of Bacon's psyche is a stunning portrait of the lost and tortured George Dyer by Daniel Craig. The interaction between these two actors is magical. And discovering the friends of Bacon who so often became models becomes a game of recollection as we are introduced to Muriel Belcher (Tilda Swinton), Henrietta Moraes (Anabel Brooks), Isabel Hawthorne (Anne Lambton), Daniel Farson (Adrian Scarborough) and John Deakin (Karl Johnson).

    Many viewers would find this film difficult viewing as the life and style of the painter are less than immaculate. But for those who love expressionistic figurative art and the joy of creative film making, this is a very fine work to add to the library. Grady Harp

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews