The Burnt Orange Heresy: Film Review

The Burnt Orange Heresy

I was sad I missed seeing The Burnt Orange Heresy at the Venice Film Festival last year but now it’s finally coming to UK cinemas – and it was worth the wait. 

The crime thriller stars Claes Bang as James Figueras, a shady Milan-based art critic who takes his new American love interest Berenice (Elizabeth Debicki) to the estate of wealthy British art dealer Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger). Cassidy essentially blackmails Figueras into stealing a painting from the reclusive and enigmatic artist Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland), who is currently living in a cabin on his estate. 

The Burnt Orange Heresy is quite the slow burner and only really becomes a thriller in the final 20-30 minutes when the film takes an interesting and unexpected turn and becomes super exciting. Up until then, it pods along nicely as an intriguing art world drama, with many well-written conversations, but rest assured, your patience will be rewarded by a heart-pounding and gripping finale. 

That’s not to say the majority of the film is boring at all. I was captivated right away by Bang’s charm and charisma and his speech about “the power of the critic” and I was intrigued to find out more about him and watch how his newfound relationship with Berenice would pan out. Somewhere in the middle, I wondered if it was going to go anywhere or get going anytime soon – but thankfully it does and I was left very satisfied by the thrilling showdown. 

I just wish I got to know the characters more though. Debney is supposed to be the only enigmatic one, yet all of them are basically a mystery and seem to have darkness that is simmering just under the surface and never explored. I wanted the film to delve more into Figueras’ pill-popping, his possible involvement in a forgery, and likely financial problems. Berenice keeps her cards quite close to her chest and I wanted to know more about her previous life in America too. 

Like I mentioned above, Bang’s charm drew me into this movie immediately and he was a captivating lead. I thought he was well matched with Debicki who plays a character you can’t quite work out. Sutherland was excellent in his brief appearance as Debney, and Jagger was just well, Mick Jagger. He had great swagger and energy but I can’t actually believe him as another character, it’s impossible! 

The Burnt Orange Heresy takes a while to get going but trust me, your patience will pay off in the end. Gripping stuff. 

In cinemas from Friday 30th October 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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