TIFF review: The Burnt Orange Heresy

Film about an art critic enlisted by a collector to interview reclusive legend is the textbook definition of middling arthouse


THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY GALA D: Giuseppe Capotondi. U.S./U.K. 98 min. Sep 12, 2 pm, Elgin Sep 13, 9:30 am, Scotiabank 2. Rating: NN


With its gorgeous European vistas, international cast, languorous pacing and tasteful dashes of nudity and violence, The Burnt Orange Heresy feels like one of the dozens of Miramax imports that clogged TIFF in the late 90s and early 00s.

Adapted by Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan) from a novel by Charles Willeford, who wrote Miami Blues and New Hope For The Dead, and directed by Italian helmer Capotondi, The Burnt Orange Heresy somehow plays like warmed-over Highsmith, with Claes Bang (The Square) as James Figueras, an art critic enlisted by a collector (Mick Jagger) to interview reclusive legend Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland) and perhaps procure one of his paintings. Figueras brings along his new girlfriend (Elizabeth Debicki), who seems far too worldly to be a schoolteacher from Duluth Debney takes a shine to her as well. They have dinner. Debney shows them his studio. And then things take a turn.

It’s all very pretty, and the conversations about the nature of art and truth will let people come away thinking they’ve seen something deep. Festivalgoers of a certain age will recognize the safe, middling arthouse formula right away, and wonder why anybody who isn’t Harvey Weinstein would think we need another one.

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