Love is the Devil

And it works both ways. But ain't he cute?
(c) BBC Films and BFI in collaboration with Premier Heure, Uplink, & Arts Council of England
(c) Cinemien Film Distribution
Those familiar with director John Maybury's work will not be surprised by the approach to this film which he calls "a sketch for a portrait of Francis Bacon." Full of the striking, stunning, mesmerizing, and possibly sometimes shocking (for the weak of heart or head), this story of jumbled pieces and distorted images try to give an impression of the man and his personal view of the world he lives in. Contending with the regalia of recognition (being among other things, the second British artist whose work became housed in the French Palais d'Art) as well as his onderworld friends and acquaintances, Bacon always manages to find huge amounts of time for his two favorite passions: art and George (the petty thief-turned gay lover for the painter's favors). George leaves his entourage of yob friends and begins a lifestyle that leads to drunkenness, despair, heroine, and suicidal tendencies. (As you can imagine, it's always fun when Francis is around.)

Maybury has found a topic that suits his form very well (yes, we can say that). The array of images tend to enhance the tale, blend well with the poetry, and pull one into a world which, whether familiar or not to the viewer, bombards him with passions. Having spent a year and a half researching Bacon included being introduced, through Bacon biographer Daniel Farson, to many of the artist's friends and acquaintances. (John must really know what research is now.) The result was a fund of information that pointed out how many people radically differed in their impressions of exactly who Francis Bacon was. Maybury comments that "basically Bacon was our ultimate production designer. I think the look of the film is a reference to Bacon, but achieves this without resorting to a direct interpretation. The special effects I've used are designed to underline a point in the story, to emphasize a decline between Bacon's and Dyer's relationship and Dyer's state of mind."

Sir Derek Jacobi is sublime as Bacon. Daniel Craig is delicious as George. Breathe in, breathe out.
Wonderful work by DP John Mathieson and composer Ryichi Sakamoto. The rest of the cast, including Tilda Swinton, Adrian Scarborough, Anne Lambton, Annabel Brooks, and Karl Johnson are also notable presences. Party time in the labyrinth.
A visual poem with images.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett