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Film review The Burnt Orange Heresy (15)

PUBLISHED: 10:50 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:50 22 October 2020

The Burnt Orange Conspiracy starring Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Debicki and Donald Sutherland

The Burnt Orange Conspiracy starring Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Debicki and Donald Sutherland

©joseharo

In this sophisticated thriller, Mick Jagger is a reptilian art collector hosting an artist an art critic and an American tourist - but which one is the fake?

The Burnt Orange Conspiracy starring Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Debicki and Donald SutherlandThe Burnt Orange Conspiracy starring Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Debicki and Donald Sutherland

The lack of blockbusters during the pandemic has shown up the threadbare nature of the sub-franchise offerings. 21st-century cinema is like 21st century society; sharply divided between the ultra-rich and those surviving on the breadline.

If it doesn’t cost $200 million, it probably costs next to nothing. The Burnt Orange Heresy is an example of the kind of film that used to be common but, like the affluent middle classes, has been squeezed out: a mid-range sophisticated thriller for grown-ups.

It is in many ways the thing that cinema is made for: beautiful, interesting people in beautiful places (Milan and Lake Como) doing interesting things.

There are only four characters in it and any one of them could be a liar or a cheat: Debicki’s sophisticated American tourist, who claims to be a teacher from Duluth; Sutherland’s reclusive painter, whose studios and paintings have a habit of going up in flames or Jagger’s millionaire art collector.

The Burnt Orange Conspiracy starring Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Debicki and Donald SutherlandThe Burnt Orange Conspiracy starring Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Debicki and Donald Sutherland

But your initial money would be on the ambitious art critic played by Baes.

All critics are lowlifes but the art ones are a special breed of charlatan.

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After giving a lecture, Baes’ hooks up with Debicki and takes her as his date for a weekend at Jagger’s lakeside abode.

Jagger will fix him up to interview enigmatic artist Sutherland, but wants something in return. Though based on a book by Charles Willeford, there is more than a touch of Patricia Highsmith here. It takes its time and because the plot isn’t packed with incident, when something dramatic does happen, we feel its importance, and appreciate that this character is doing something that is going to affect the rest of their life.

The fun is working out who is the fake. There’s a moment when Baes questions Debicki’s Duluth accent, saying they have odd vowels sounds.

That’s a very daring piece of dialogue to put in the mouth of someone with such a Bjork-inflected pronunciation of English.

The film rides on four fantastic performances and yes, that does include Jagger. Like Vinnie Jones, most rock stars only have one great performance in them and it is always their first (Jagger Performance/ Bowie Man who Fell To Earth/ Sting Brimstone and Treacle.) But here Jagger exudes posh reptilian menace.

4/5 stars

Directed by Guiseppe Capotondi. Starring Claus Baes, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland. In cinemas. Running time 99 mins

Got to halfmanhalfcritic.com for a review of The Ladykillers, back in cinemas and out on blu-ray.


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