Fascinating And Repellant; A Very Good Movie
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 05/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A thief (Daniel Craig) breaks through a skylight and lands in the middle of an artist's studio. His flashlight shows paints and brushes and canvas, and scattered thick on the floor pictures and newspaper photographs of carnage, accidents, executions. Peering at him from a slightly open door is the artist (Derek Jacobi). "Not much of a burglar, are you?" the artist says. "Take your clothes off. Come to bed. Then you can have whatever you want."
The artist is Francis Bacon, one of the great painters of the Twentieth Century. The burglar is a working class, not-too-bright man 30 years younger than Bacon named George Dyer. Love Is the Devil tells of Bacon's relationship with Dyer from 1964 until Dyer commits suicide in 1971.
People probably react to this movie much the same way they react to Bacon's paintings and his life. Fascinated or repelled. Or both. Bacon's view of life is certainly there for all to see. He was an aggressive masochist where pleasure is pain and degradation is arousal. On the way to a boxing match with George, he says that "boxing is such an aperitif for sex. Like bull fighting, it unlocks the bowels of feeling." Bacon's circle of friends are brittle, obnoxious, clever queens, whether or not they are gay. They may accept George as Francis' plaything but not as a serious lover. Bacon is aroused and energized by the perversity of life. "We all have nightmares," he says to George unsympathetically one night. "They can't be as horrific as real life." His paintings are usually grotesque manipulations of the human body, where the body can look like an opened side of beef and a face can look like its been turned inside out. One critic called him the morbid poet of the world of evil. That seems to me to be superficial and ignorant. A person may not like Bacon's work, but his stuff is powerful and fascinating.
Both actors do superb jobs. Jacobi in particular just lays it all out. He gives a performance of self loathing, commitment and precise personality.
The DVD looks great. Unfortunately, there are no examples of Bacon's paintings; his estate wouldn't give permission. If you know Bacon and are familiar with his work, I think you'll find this movie imperfect but engrossing."
An inventive look at a fascinating yet disturbing man.
Brenda Griffey | 07/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Maybury provides viewers with a creative portrayal of the English painter Francis Bacon. Bacon was fascinated with violence both in his paintings and in his personal life. This is evident from the very first scene in which Bacon confronts George Dyer, the inept burglar who has fallen into his studio. Jacobi's chilling, yet mesmerizing, portrayal of Bacon is seen as Maybury closes in on Jacobi's face as he deliciously anticipates being bedded and dominated by this strange young man. And while the film's frank portrayal of lust and sexual dominance is clearly evident it also explores the life of a man who consciously chose the dark side of life. The performances of both Jacobi and Daniel Craig, as Dyer, are outstanding as is the inventive camera work of Maybury, who mimics the surreal images of Bacon's paintings. Jacobi's performance and voice-over narration help to illuminate this disturbing and fascinating man. Disturbing because he revelled in the violence and pain that most of us abhor and fascinating because Bacon was so unabashedly honest in his approach to life and his work."
"Portraiture of Pain"
H. F. Corbin | ATLANTA, GA USA | 10/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One character in this film describes Francis Bacon's art as "portraitures of pain," also an apt description of this movie about the artist and his relationship with a burglar George Dyer, played by Daniel Craig, who falls into Bacon's flat from a skylight in a bungled attempt at a robbery. Completely unfazed, Bacon (Derek Jacob) informs George that if he will take off his clothes and come to bed, that he can have anything in the apartment he desires.
I know precious little about the life of Bacon; but if this movie is accurate, he was not a particularly likeable man who treats Dyer, who comes to care a great deal for him--"I love you, Francis"-- very badly. At times George is his "sorbet between courses." At other times, he banishes him from his sight.
Both actors are excellent in their roles. Jacobi actually looks like Bacon; and Craig, soon to be the new James Bond, gives a fine performance as a "tragedy waiting to happen."
John Maybury, the director, obviously wants the viewer to be reminded of Bacon's paintings since there are many distorted and fragmented shots. Additionally, many of the artist's friends from the bar have very unsymetrical faces. Bacon makes himself up in front of three mirrors. There are several shots where the characters are so close to the camera so as to give a fish-eye effect. There is also a scene where victims of an auto accident are lying in positions similar to those of figures from Bacon's art. For the most part these "portraits of pain" work.
This film is certainly worth watching.
A difficult story told boldly.
S. Hebbron | Leicester UK | 03/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The life of British artist Francis Bacon was a fragmented story of abuse, disconnection and cynicism, he developed a callous disregard for human feeling seemingly because he was treated similarly as a boy, subjected as he was to the coldness of the British Public School system.
This film chronicles the height of his career during which time he had an initially loving but latterly destructive love affair with a simple and striking east end lad, George Dyers.
The centre of Bacon's world was his grubby, disorganised, slightly sordid, studio flat. A world into which George falls, quite literally, through the sky light while attempting to steal from the artist.
The affair is at first one of passion and caring, George is shown off and spoiled. As it becomes evident that George is in need of simple and tangible feedback to prove he is loved so Francis seems able only to give cruel jibes and provocation based on the irritation of George's needs, thus the seeds of destruction are sown. Francis seeks solice in creating art, the only place he can make some kind of coherant sense of the fragments of his angry emotional world. George, who has almost daily nightmares, has no creative means of dealing with his complicated emotions and reactions to Francis. He can only blot out the pain in a haze of drugs and drink. On the rare occassions he can deal with his demons while lucid he does so by making dramatic and messy suicide attempts.
The film pinacles as Francis is given the honour of being the first British artist since Turner to have a special exhibition in Paris, George takes his life the night before in their Parisian Hotel, dying in humiliating and tormenting circumstances, he was found dead on the toilet.
The story is tragic, the camera work offers insights into Bacon's sense of distatse and disgust as motivating factors in his art, some scenes look incredibly like one of his tormented "screaming", portraits.
Jacobi is superb is as Bacon and Craig is both engaigingly sweet and by equal measure, distastefully tormented as Dyer. Other highlights include the exact set replica of Bacon's dismal studio flat and Tilda Swinton as the grubbily horrid "Mother", Lesbian Matriarch of the seedy Gay club which provides the hot bed for both creative and destructive forces to which Bacon and his contemparies are drawn, throughout the film."