An ambitious art critic steals a rare painting and becomes consumed by his own greed as the operation spins out of control, in Giuseppe Capotondi's (The Double Hour) thriller based on Charles Willeford's noir novel and starring Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, Claes Bang, and Mick Jagger.
The Burnt Orange Heresy
Sexy and twisty like so many of the best thrillers, The Burnt Orange Heresy benefits from its unpredictable plot, glossy settings, and outrageous cast — international stars Claes Bang (The Square) and Elizabeth Debicki (Widows) lead a roster that includes legend Donald Sutherland and the inimitable Mick Jagger, who looks like he's having the time of his already storied life.
Transplanting Charles Willeford's cult novel from Florida to rather more gorgeous locations on Italy's Lake Como, the story begins with James Figueras (Bang) using his impressive knowledge of art history to swindle attendees at his paid lectures. But his sights are soon set higher, on a rare painting by the reclusive genius Jerome Debney (Sutherland, also at the Festival in A Dry White Season, screening in the TIFF Cinematheque programme), but also on the distracting Berenice Hollis (Debicki), who has motives of her own. With wheels set in motion by Joseph Cassidy (Jagger), a fabulously wealthy art collector who long ago shed anything so common as morals, it's not long before greed and desire lead to the sudden shock of murder.
Set in a fine art world where beauty sells for millions, The Burnt Orange Heresy takes some satisfying satirical swipes at that milieu. Jagger in particular is a pure pleasure to watch. But as the stakes get higher, the screws of the thriller plot tighten. Flinty banter and libertine sex give way to suspicion, guilt, and mounting desperation. This expert cast is more than up to the task as the gears shift smoothly to polished, contemporary film noir.