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Friday, May 30, 2008

LOVE IS THE DEVIL (1998)

‘Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon’ is both the subtitle and the dead giveaway to the sort of clinical aspirations/baggage writer/director John Maybury brings to this project. Drawing parallels between an artist’s life & work may be fallacious (or in the case here, fellatious), but the idea has long proved irresistible to biographers. Fair enough, and not without justification in the case of Bacon and the rough trade/burglar he played Pygmalion with. But Maybury makes the lethal mistake of attempting to render the artist’s visual style in his filmmaking with odd angles and distorted lenses which obscure rather than invoke Bacon’s manner. Derek Jacobi goes farther than you expect into Bacon’s creepy mix of sexual masochism and social dominance while a pre-James Bond Daniel Craig falls all too believably into a drug-addled abyss. The story is too old and pat to resonate, but some brief scenes of casual walks around London let us see what attraction might have gone on between these two, while also documenting that Craig is, quite surprisingly, a couple of inches shorter than Jacobi. A 5'5" James Bond?

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