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Review Of The Burnt Orange Heresy

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OPENS IN LA & NY MARCH 6, 2020  (Followed by nationwide expansion)
LA Opening Day Theater
THE LANDMARK 10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Left to Right: Claes Bang as James Figueras, Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

The Burnt Orange Heresy Reviewed by Simone Cromer

For any lover of art, The Burnt Orange Heresy is more than a thriller its also an examination of morality and truth. Based on the book by Charles Willeford, screenwriter Scott B. Smith brings to life a taut drama with beautiful cinematography surrounded by beautiful and flawed people. In the hands of director Giuseppe Capotondi, we have a film reminiscent of The talented Mr. Ripley while keeping its own tone and rhythm. An ambitious and charismatic art critic, James Figueras ( played by Claes Bang)Netflix/BBC Dracula, struggles, creatively and financially, on the periphery of the art world by giving art history lectures in Milan to tourists. As timing would have it, a gorgeous American woman, Berenice Hollis (Widows, Elizabeth Debicki) sat in on his lecture and a sexy romance quickly develops.

Mick Jagger as Joseph Cassidy
Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

A wealthy art dealer, Joseph Cassidy (played by Mick Jagger Rolling Stones) reaches out to James with an incredible proposition. The opportunity to interview a world-renowned recluse painter which would not only jump-start James’ career but change his life forever. With Bernice, they drive out to meet Cassidy at his exquisite Lake Como Villa and along the way, but we start to wonder if Bernice is what she seems. The interview with Cassidy, however, is the cover, the caveat is to steal a painting from the legendary painter, Jerome Debney (The Hunger Games/Ad Astra, Donald Sutherland)who resides in Cassidy’s guest house. Cassidy’s background search on James’ past causes great distress to James as he realizes that he has no choice but to do as Cassidy demands or his less than savory deals will come to light.

Donald Sutherland as Jerome Debney Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

Upon first meeting Debney, James has to pass a strenuous test in order for Debney to deem him worthy enough to interview him. This event makes James even more determined to accomplish his task. However, James was in for a shock when he realized that Debney was just an old man of diminished mental capacity, a shadow of his former creative genius, who could not give James what Cassidy desired and thus setting off a disturbing chain of events that would alter all their lives.  

The Burnt Orange Heresy will give one much to ponder on how does art affects our perception of truth. And more importantly, can art save us from ourselves. 

  • Director: Giuseppe Capotondi
  • Writers: Scott B. Smith, Charles Willeford (novel)
  • Stars: Elizabeth Debicki, Claes Bang, Donald Sutherland, Mick Jagger, Rosalind Halstead
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 1h 39m
  • Genres: Action, Drama, Thriller

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