With the lovely mist of Lake Como as a backdrop comes a film drama that weaves together an unsettling tale involving an art dealer, critic, traveler and artist with less than transparent motives.
Set in Northern Italy, the 2020 film The Burnt Orange Heresy has rock icon Mick Jagger playing Joseph Cassidy, a high-powered art dealer, who offers art critic James Figueras (Claes Bang) a rare opportunity to interview reclusive A-list painter Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland). But there's a catch. James's new lover Berenice Hollis (Elizabeth Debicki) gets drawn into a sinister plan set into motion by Jagger's wily art dealer character.
In his nearby cottage, the eccentric artist Debney (played by Sutherland) has lost many of his prized artworks. The art dealer says he must have a Debney work and devises a scheme "about redemption, embezzlement and forgery" in director Giuseppe Capitondi's adapation of Charles Willeford's 1971 novel. The screenplay is by Scott Smith.
Some viewers enjoyed the Lake Como scenery more than the film's story line. On the review website Rotten Tomatoes, critics say, "The Burnt Orange Heresy has a certain stylish charm, even if -- much like the art world it depicts -- it'll strike some viewers as pretentious."
The New York Times review suggests the film's examination of "misogyny and murderous psychosis" could go to a nauseating level for some viewers, but Jagger's character is a "nonchalant Lucifer and, as it happens, the strongest reason to see this movie."
Vulture posits: "To work in the arts, the movie understands, is to frequently be surrounded by money without necessarily having any of one’s own, a dissonance that can drive some people to distraction."
The Burnt Orange Heresy (Sony Pictures Classics) was re-released on August 7 after initially pulled from theaters in March due to the pandemic and it can be purchased on digital platforms. See the trailer on YouTube.