Art History at the Movies: Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

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

Directed by John Maybury

ETA: Click on the photo if you want to purchase this movie.

The movie’s IMDB profile.

Artists and their relationships with their muses, the movie Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon uses this as the main plot.  This film recounts the brief relationship between artist Francis Bacon (Derek Jacobi) and George Dyer (Daniel Craig).

Anyway, back to the post.

During the movie’s timeline, Bacon already established himself as a famous artist when he meets Dyer.  Throughout their relationship, Bacon molds Dyer to his own liking and while Dyer changes, it does not stop him from taking a self-destructive path thanks to drugs and alcohol.  To make things worse, Bacon does nothing to help Dwyer.  Furthermore, the artist dismisses Dwyer’s Dyer’s attempts at suicide as a cry for attention.  When Dwyer Dyer commits suicide, Bacon is away and receives the accolades of others.  A muse dies, and an artist lives on.

Throughout this movie, we do not really see Bacon’s artwork.  The movie does not let us see George Dyer posing for Bacon’s art even though he says he acted as Bacon’s muse.  However, we do see him painting and his studio throughout the film.  And the film itself turns into a Bacon painting, with its scenes of violence and death and the artist commenting on how beautiful they are.  For instance, one scene shows a boxing match with Bacon enjoying it more than most people do, if you know what I mean.  One interesting note, the sex scenes between Dyer and Bacon resemble Bacon’s paintings, all dark and distorted.

Image courtesy of Photobucket of blood_head.

Is the movie good?  Like Nightwatching, I cannot give a definite answer.  Similar to Bacon with Dyer, this movie leaves me detached to their relationship.  In short, this movie revolved around two damaged people.  The movie itself does not portray Francis as an evil monster, just only what happened.

Tropes Used:

Was the film similar to a Bacon painting?  Yes.  The film has a dark and grotesque atmosphere to it with minimal color schemes.  It does use the trope of Art Reenactment. As I mentioned earlier, the movie also uses the trope of the Established ArtistFurthermore, we also watch Bacon at work.

By the  way, the make up artist did such an amazing turning Derek Jacobi into Francis Bacon.  On Daniel Craig, he did well in playing Dyer, a man in over his head.

Image courtesy of Photobucket and yanfabre.

Furthermore, I have ordered some books about Bacon, and have decided that I am going to continue reviewing this movie as soon I finish reading them.

Suggested Reading:

Francis Bacon: Brush With Death, a Vanity Fair article that talks about George Dyer and Francis Bacon’s visit to New York.

Devoutly Elusive: Love is the Devil, a review by Bright Lights Film Journal. 

ETA: I decided to rewrite this post.

ETA: Rewrote it again.

(ETA: I deleted some sentences that I regret doing.)

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