Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon ★★★★

"Like a bomb exploding in reverse... Thoughts, ideas... fragments of images. Shards of memory, like shrapnel... All come back to me, and are forced back out in a cruel pastiche of experience."

A portrait of the artist in bold, unforgiving strokes.

Perhaps predictablely rejected by Bacon's estate, this film probes the dichotomous relationship between the artist (played surperbly by Derek Jacobi) and his lover/muse George Dyer (a markedly vulnerable Daniel Craig). Tender yet barbaric, traumatised yet inspired, the lens shifts between objective chaos and subjective trance. Gritty truths are revealed through surreal artifice, and the ill-fated 'love affair' is rendered nauseatingly poetic.

As uncanny as Jacobi's resemblace to Bacon is the soul of the artists work, which devoures the screen. Iconic paintings are notably absent (due to such tight permissions), yet fish-eye lenses and warped cinematography shadow their imagery via the bleak and transient scenery of 60s soho. We view the eccentrics of Bacon's world with equal measures of nuance and unflattering grit. In fact, the entire film straddles the taught line between allure and disgust, often akin to staring into a psychedelic toilet bowl (both literally and figuratively), yet any admirer of the visionary painter would agree that there could be no greater ode to lurid genius of Francis Bacon - a truly unique and captivating watch.

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