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Burnt orange heresy

Burnt orange cheese Dairy

Director: Giuseppe Capotondi

Working time: 98 minutes

In this post-reality (maybe average?), where we are all helpless and inseparable, a really strange year like 2020 will bring really strange films. I realized this epically when I saw the film Burnt orange heresy, and it all starts with the deliberate ambiguity of the film’s advertising poster.

First the poster tries to cover a certain article in the title of the film. A strange decision, given that this article was included in the trailer of the film, in the credits, and became the title of the eponymous book by criminal prose writer Charles Wilford, which forms the basis of the script of Scott Smith’s film. Moreover, the poster seems to leave the list of the famous director Giuseppe Capotondi instead of opting for an explanation of the producer’s work: From the award-winning producers of the talented Mr. Ripley, Spring Breakers and Night Sliders. Of course all this is true, but the question remains why Capotondi is not present (apart from a small recording in the lower text that was barely read).

This may have to do with the fact that Capotondi, the famous advertising director of BMW and the video clip of artists like Natalie Imbruglia, Bush and Kelis, does not have many drawings and recognition of his name. Burned Orange’s heresy of her producers’ works may appear to the potential audience as an indication of the style, tone and genre of the film.

Poster of the movie Burning Orange Heresy.

You may be wondering: Okay, good. But why does it matter? As the film’s slogan beautifully illustrates: You can’t paint the truth. Heresy in burnt orange is a film that is firmly rooted in art history and high society and is closely related to the ideas of the visual image, criticism, philosophy, the normality of facts and meaning. So I think it would have been a missed opportunity if I hadn’t been involved in the spirit of presenting the film while trying to observe, evaluate and reflect. Let me explain.

James Figeras (Claes Bang) is an ashamed art critic who leads a modest, even unflattering life in Italy and teaches the power of criticism to mainly ignorant tourists. The characters desperately seek respect, success and fame in the arrogant circles of the elitist high art scene and will do anything to get it. After a chance encounter with the beautiful and impenetrable Berenis Hollis (Elizabeth Debicki), an idealistic schoolmaster from Duluth, Minnesota, who enjoys a European Sabbath, Figueres invites his new paramedic to accompany him on a tour of the estate of the wealthy art collector Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger). Cassidy tells Figueres that the famous hermit Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland) lives in his palace house. The elusive Debney has managed to escape public attention for over 50 years and no one has been able to interview her or see her current work.

It reveals the vicious circle that motivates the plot of the film: Cassidy is willing to arrange a meeting and possibly interview with Debbie for Figueras if he can convince Debbie to donate one of his works to the Cassidy collection. For Figueras, this is the chance of a lifetime, with the chance to get his shaky career back on track and restore his social status. However, when he turns out to be a loser, Cassidy threatens to solve some of Figueres’ crooked cases and officially sink his career for good. With solid inserts and a beautiful setting in the villas around Lake Como in Italy, the film is in every groove of the irresistible neo-noise-style thriller.

The real peculiarity of the Hot Orange Heresy is that it destroys the trophies of black cinema while convincingly meeting the same familiar narrative rhythms. How Cassidy Jagger, with her smugness, tells the characters at the end of the first act of the film: Never let anything worth owning cloud its value.

As the protagonist of the film, which is against the heroes, the explosion of the role of the character deserves praise and attention. Instead of being a tough detective or a tough gangster, Bung portrays a critic with the right amount of hard intelligence, tragic mistakes and thoughtful existential fear. Pieces of dialogue and prehistory suggest a dark undercurrent bubbling beneath Debbie’s affection for Figueras, and while the film burns its three-act active structure into almost symmetrical thirty-minute units, twists and turns bring an unexpected twist to a totally expected moment.

Hollis Debicki is also the foil of Figueras, the antihero, but he is the perfect anti-wife of fate and a beacon of optimism that shines in otherwise serious and arrogant circles of fame and ego. The scenario highlights Hollis’ origins and confused intentions. Associated with the dialogue at the top (Hollis and Figures know each other only a few days, but tease each other constantly and call each other Honey, the Champion and other names of tender pets), she is the voice of every human being who can see clearly and distinctly through the curtains of shit and pretense.

Capotondi’s directing and David Ungaro’s camera work also contribute to undermining the expectations of the thriller story. The surroundings of Lake Como are full of bright and warm colours, avoiding the play of shadows and contrasts, as they are called in the neoblack genre. As the film unfolds on its toes in moments of urban exploration, the use of winding corridors, open doors and darkness inside serves to snore scenes of dramatic tension.

Although I enjoyed Burning Orange Heresy, the film unfortunately comes down to an unsatisfying third act and an awkward conclusion that dilutes much of the fun of the previous acts. Debicki’s performance, however, is brilliant and it’s worth recording only the confessions. There is also a fascinating meta-aspect of the film that I remember long after seeing it. As a co-critic of art and creative expression, it is always a pleasure to see the film interact with the act of criticism itself as a mechanism of character building, plot and narrative reality. As Debbie Hollis convincingly suggests: Most people… You’re not what you expected. And in many ways the same can be said of burning the orange heresy.

Here we go:

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