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Love is the Devil

John Maybury

John Maybury’s powerfully imaginative film presents an unflinching portrait of Bacon and his destructive relationship with his lover and muse, George Dyer. The film opens in 1971, when Bacon is acclaimed as ‘the greatest living painter’ at the triumphant Paris retrospective that sealed his reputation. As the ceremony proceeds, Dyer takes a cocktail of pills and alcohol, and the film flashes back to the 1960s, when Dyer met the painter whilst trying to burgle his flat. At the film’s centre is Derek Jacobi’s brilliant performance, which succeeds in capturing much of the mercurial, contradictory qualities of Bacon. As portrayed here, Bacon’s sexual proclivity for masochism is matched by his emotional sadism. A painter himself, director Maybury makes a largely successful attempt to structure his film like a Bacon canvas as he attempts to sketch ‘the territory where art, love and sex dangerously collide.’
U.K., 1998. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 91 mins.

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