Saturday, August 10, 2013

Portraying Human Condition

Love is the Devil (1998) - Maybury
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Francis Bacon, known for his grotesque figurative paintings gets portrayed here as a cold hearted major A hole perfectly by Derek Jacobi. When a petty pretty bugler George (Daniel Craig) comes literally crashing down from heaven to his studio one night, Bacon coolly invites him to his bed, promising him anything he wants. So starts a tumultuous, completely lopsided relationship. Bacon loves pleasure and being physically dominated, but has absolutely no feelings for anyone. Even among his snarky, floozy friends, he is the biggest bully with the sharpest tongue. George is a junkie and has OCD. Against the the wishes of his older, benevolent friends who warn him about his bitter fate: that famous rich artist will get what he wants from you and discard you like a rag doll, George continues his relationship with Bacon. There is a particularly chilling scene of Bacon in his studio with George passed out in front of him. Bacon simply checks his lover's breath with his compact mirror if he is dead or not. This is the man who is being honored at Grand Palais, Paris for his paintings that depict 'human condition'.

It made a strong impact on me when I first saw it in the theater. I knew the filmmakers didn't get the permit to use any of the artist's paintings in the film and I'm awed once again by the ingenious way to show Bacon's style in simple camera tricks and economical set deco. Both leads are terrific so as seriously hedioused up Tilda Swinton as the member of Bacon's circle of ugly side of humanity friends.