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on 15 March 2007
Love is the Devil is a riveting and disquieting portrait of a riveting and disquieting painter, Francis Bacon. Bacon's place in the pantheon of twentieth century painters is now firmly established, but at a time when anything other than abstract expressionism was ignored by the critical establishment, he went about developing a highly individual style of figurative painting, paintings which are often difficult to look at - large, dark, distorted figures in which the pain suffered by the subject is expressed by the entire composition, often large canvases, as well as twisted facial expressions, grotesqueries on the outside reflecting anguish within.

Bacon was a homosexual, a masochist sexually, but, it seems, much the emotional sadist out of bed. The film covers the period in his life from the dramatic entrance of George Dyer, the younger working class man who became his lover, until Dyer's suicide seven years later. Their relationship is explored in some depth here, with neither condescension nor simplification. Though Bacon comes out of it looking selfish and cruelly insensitive, the art that he made during those years is a sensational testament to the profound emotional connection that he and Dyer shared, for all that intellectually and socially they were worlds apart.

Writer-director John Maybury uses the camera to interpret the images that were Bacon's world, not trying to recreate the paintings, none of which are shown in the film, but to elicit the visual experience and translate it into film pictures that, in turn, suggest what Bacon was doing on canvas.

In some scenes, for example, characters are heavily made up to distort their faces, in one case almost with the look of advanced Bell's palsy. The camera, then, might show us that face through the glass of a light bulb or reflected in a mirror, or in broken glass, or in extreme closeup - all techniques used at one point or another in the film, all evincing the look and feel of Bacon painting without trying to be Bacon paintings. Bacon painted a number of triptychs, and Maybury cues us in with three paneled mirrors. Maybury has looked at Bacon's paintings and seen them well; his filmic interpretation is inspired without being derivative. The soundtrack of electronic, dissonant music by Ryuichi Sakamoto provides an excellent aural complement.

We get some sequences of Bacon at work, not only using brush and palette knife, laying on the thick impasto, but even using his hands right on the paint and canvas. In the course of the story we get interesting moments that help us understand, if not why Bacon felt the way he felt, at least how. He and George attend a boxing match, and blood from the broken face of one of the fighters literally splatters Bacon's face. "Francis is in a state of grace in the presence of violence," says one of his friends. Most of all, George's recurring nightmares of death and the inner demons that haunt him even as he becomes more deeply dependent on alcohol and drugs are the grist for Bacon's aesthetic mill, the stuff which he converts into paint on canvas with power and impact and its own perverse beauty.

The lead performances, Derek Jacobi as Bacon and Daniel Craig as Dyer, could not be better, the stuff for which Academy awards are won in films less controversial, more mainstream. Regardless, in terms of film art, all participants are top notch. They have made a film that will be the benchmark of the genre for years to come.
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on 12 November 2008
I bought this and saw it last night, it was without doubt a little werid but somewhat beautiful. It starts out with Franics Bacon going to George Dyer's apartment and mourning for his upsettling death, then it swtiches to seven years before when they first meet and become doomed lovers. Bacon is more in focus of his paintings and his odd friends while Dyer is falling deeper for him so much that he begins to lose his sainty and destorys his life. The peformances are brilliant, Derek Jacobi is excellent and the right choice as Bacon, he can show little emotion like crueltiy and bitterness while narrating in the background. Daniel Craig is without doubt amazing and brilliant, his final moments still haunt me ever since and that's what I call very good acting. He can show emotions more like tenderness and his mad obesstion of S and M. It's not rubbish or good, there's something about it that made me hypoisted and in awe of it's dark beauty. It's worth seeing if it's a little short and fading to black a lot but there's a rare thing about it that made me give it four stars.
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A thief (Daniel Craig) breaks through a skylight and lands in the middle of an artist's studio. His flashlight shows paints and brushes and canvas, and scattered thick on the floor pictures and newspaper photographs of carnage, accidents, executions. Peering at him from a slightly open door is the artist (Derek Jacobi). "Not much of a burglar, are you?" the artist says. "Take your clothes off. Come to bed. Then you can have whatever you want."

The artist is Francis Bacon, one of the great painters of the Twentieth Century. The burglar is a working class, not-too-bright man 30 years younger than Bacon named George Dyer. Love Is the Devil tells of Bacon's relationship with Dyer from 1964 until Dyer commits suicide in 1971.

People probably react to this movie much the same way they react to Bacon's paintings and his life. Fascinated or repelled. Or both. Bacon's view of life is certainly there for all to see. He was an aggressive masochist where pleasure is pain and degradation is arousal. On the way to a boxing match with George, he says that "boxing is such an aperitif for sex. Like bull fighting, it unlocks the bowels of feeling." Bacon's circle of friends are brittle, obnoxious, clever queens, whether or not they are gay. They may accept George as Francis' plaything but not as a serious lover. Bacon is aroused and energized by the perversity of life. "We all have nightmares," he says to George unsympathetically one night. "They can't be as horrific as real life." His paintings are usually grotesque manipulations of the human body, where the body can look like an opened side of beef and a face can look like its been turned inside out. One critic called him the morbid poet of the world of evil. That seems to me to be superficial and ignorant. A person may not like Bacon's work, but his stuff is powerful and fascinating.

Both actors do superb jobs. Jacobi in particular just lays it all out. He gives a performance of self loathing, commitment and precise personality.

The DVD looks great. Unfortunately, there are no examples of Bacon's paintings; his estate wouldn't give permission. If you know Bacon and are familiar with his work, I think you'll find this movie imperfect but engrossing.
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on 21 July 2003
The question is whether you're viewing this as a lover of Bacon's work or to enjoy what is simply a fascinating cult film in itself. A few of the intermittant shots are not the most original and the storyline might not be to all tastes, but the Jacobi-Craig clash and borderline humour of supporting characters combine for some wonderfully twisted dialogue that brings it alive! If you're aware that none of Bacon's work is on offer, and appreciate tongue-in-cheek humour of it's darkest type then you will love this film.
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on 24 November 2000
With creative and bizare camera angles, this film captures the way Francis Bacon saw the world. Derek Jacobi is both lovable and loathsome as Bacon. The images from this film stay with you. I highly recommend you see this film.
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on 13 September 2003
The brilliance of this film lies in the fact
that we see the world through the distorted
viewpoint of the painter, Frances Bacon.
We learn how he perceived his grim surroundings.
The teeth of his violent father are linked to
the laughing Pope's. Very few films on artists
can achieve this clear perspective. Peter
Watkins' film on Edvard Munch is an exception.
The shift between the artist's fantasy and
reality is excellent. Irony and tragedy are
kept in balance.
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on 11 February 2009
Love is the devil is a powerful movie that will shake your soul to the core. In its realistic, yet surreal, portrayal of Francis Bacon's life and his volatile relationship with his lover George Dyer, we are drawn into a world of depravity, decadence and human decay. Derek Jacobi gives a stunning and mesmerising performance as Bacon, and Daniel Craig displays an expressive, raw vulnerability as Dyer. This is a film that creeps under your skin and refuses to leave you once it's over.
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on 4 April 2014
Having met Bacon on several occasions,
I would say that this film is a very true
portrayal of his life.
Derek Jacobi's performance encapsulates
Bacon's moods and complex personality,
culminating in a sensitive magical
interpretation and denouement.
Unfortunately, the film did not show much of Bacon's
more sensitive and caring side which I know he had.
Otherwise an excellent video.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 February 2012
This often painful and strikingly original story, of a key relationship in Francis Bacon's life, is testement to what subsidised independent cinema can achieve at it's best. The performances of Daniel Craig, Derek Jacobi and a host of talented British actors, are outstanding in this examination of both complex psychological states and the roots of artistic impulse. The film's design is extraordinarily ambitious too, as it attempt to recreate images from Bacon's work, particularly as the production was refused access to the right to reproduce the paintings themselves, by the artist's estate. Not an easy film to watch, as the sadomasochistic subject matter is both repellant and depressing, but ultimately this complex evocation of "love" is both moving and revalatory in it's challenge to conventional values and conventional filmmaking. With so much dross being supported by government agencies today, it is astonishing to see what film subsidy could, and has, made possible in the past.
A final point - just check the credits carefully to see who took part in the pub scenes - it's a revelation!
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on 26 December 2011
This DVD release I will review in reverse. The extras are alone worth making this a purchase. Firstly there is a making of doc. Well an in depth interview with the people behind the film. Then a short doc on the Colony Club, which is great. Damien Hirst talks about visiting the Colony, seeing Bacon in the background but never approaching him. Seeing Bacon as one of the last survivors of a bygone era, almost a ghost in modern times. Being an artist myself I can understand Hirst aspiring to Bacon's level, wishing to meet his hero, but then holding back.

The film itself focuses on the Soho Bacon, which we all hear so much of but there was more to him than this. Jacobi plays Bacon very well. Even now when he is on TV as himself, he reminds us of Bacon. Craig does a good effort to play George Dyer. Alot of effort was put into the film and credit to the director. Sometimes it gets a bit too nostalgic for Soho. The commentry by Jacobi on the film is a great addition.

Worth purchasing for the extras alone is my summary!
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