A young Daniel Craig played painter Francis Bacon's lover in 1998's "Love Is the Devil." Credit: Provided
Before Valentine's Day, you will read a lot about warm movies that make you happy about love and about maybe finding your perfect match.
But perhaps you don’t like the holiday. Maybe you haven’t found that special someone, or maybe you and your partner break out in hives at its very mention. If that’s the case, may we recommend “Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon”? It’s not so much a depiction of the controversial artist as one of the bleakest views of a bad relationship out there. You can stream it here:
Bacon, as his often dark figurative paintings suggest, was not a nice man. The real-life jerk is fully on display in this biopic. Derek Jacobi is a sneering scoundrel who surrounds himself with grotesques (including Tilda Swinton) about as unpleasant as he. (“Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends,” he at one points quips.) When a thief breaks into his loft, instead of punishing him, he offers him his bed. This is the nicest thing he does in the picture.
The main draw of this film, made in 1998, is this: The thief is played by a young Daniel Craig. Craig once stated that he wouldn’t mind seeing James Bond take on a male lover. (He even made a crack to flamboyant “Skyfall” villain Javier Bardem about a possible not-so-hetero history, resulting in some “damage control” columns by conservative pundits.) Here, he jumps into the sack with Derek Jacobi, then hangs around so the two can have the kind of terrible relationship that makes the ones in “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Behind the Candelabra” look like a Hallmark card.
If the nasty words regularly swapped by Jacobi and Craig aren’t disconcerting enough, director John Maybury makes the experience visually sickly as well. He shoots in a grimy palette, sometimes through martini glasses. Francis Bacon’s home is a disheveled purgatory from which Craig — and the viewer — can’t wait to escape.
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