Love Is The Devil

Love Is The Devil

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Love Is The Devil

The commentary with writer/director John Maybury and Sir Derek of Jacobi is gossipy, a tad arch and unapologetically gay. Maybury does most of the talking, with Jacobi filling in as his affable sidekick, which acts as a reminder of what is missing in Jacobi's otherwise masterly portrayal of the controversial artist. When Francis Bacon entered a room, he dominated it. Jacobi doesn’t dominate; he flirts with possibility.

Love Is The Devil was Maybury’s first feature film, having worked for years with Derek Jarman and in pop videos. It was low, low budget, which required imagination and innovation from the set designer and DoP, duely appreciated here. They worked fast. “Three or four scenes a day,” Maybury says. “It did seem to go by in a blur.”

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Jacobi recalls that he was not the first choice to play Bacon. Maybury thought that the defiantly heterosexual poster boy from If… and A Clockwork Orange would be an interesting choice, but Malcolm McDowell turned it down. “He turned down General Pinochet as well,” Jacobi remembers. “And I played him, too.”

The subject of sadomasochism comes up, as it would, and Maybury says, “If I had shown half of what Bacon was up to, it would have made Pasolini’s Salo look like a Disney cartoon.”

The scenes at The Colony were filled with friends from the art world (“That’s Tracey Emin walking past”). Maybury names names with affection and a certain nostalgia for innocence – no one knew exactly what they were doing – and calls Hitchcock “another Jesuit-trained pervert”.

The interview with Ben Gibson, head of production at the BFI, and producer Chiara Menage, is an altogether more serious affair, which is less entertaining naturally, although more informative.

The documentary featurette on The Colony introduces luminaries, such as Lisa Stansfield, Damien Hirst and George Melly (“Francis was always the star turn, even before he became well known”). It gives an inebriated impression of how artists, nonconformists and sexual adventurers behave unplugged.

Reviewed on: 04 Sep 2008
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Love Is The Devil packshot
The artist as gay icon and the thief who stayed.
Amazon link

Product Code: BFIVD776

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: Audio commentary by John Maybury and Derek Jacobi; The Colony featurette; interview with Ben Gibson and Chiara Menage

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