Home > Written Reviews, Written Reviews > “THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY” A Gripping Thriller




Review by John Delia

Very Alfred Hitchcockesque the movie The Burnt Orange Heresy enters movie houses around the country. The right venue for the film, the story is gripping and provides some unexpected action excitement. Much like Hitchcock the film has twists and a story that will have you spellbound.

Professed Art Critic James Figueras (Claes Bang) is living in Milan, Italy and gives lectures to budding writers and art lovers. At one such address Berenice Hollis (Elizabeth Debicki) introduces herself and the two hit it off. After an evening of sex James asks her to attend a meeting with him at the opulent home of Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger), an affluent art dealer. While there Cassidy takes a liking to the Berenice and then has a private conversation with James.

Mick Jagger as Joseph Cassidy, Claes Bang as James Figueras, and Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis in The Burnt Orange Heresy. Photos courtesy of Sony Classics

On his lavish property by the sea is a cottage occupied by famous artist Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland) and he often accepts visits from Cassidy for lunch but never appears. Debney has become recluse having burned all of his works and yet still has a studio at the small hidden bungalow. Cassidy makes a very lucrative deal with James that if he can get him an interview with Debney that would further his career, would he find out if the artist has started painting again.

So begins a look into the mystery of Debney, the cunning of James and a sinister plan that’s set in motion with the help of Berenice. Director Giuseppe Capotondi does a marvelous job of setting up this thriller. Like an onion he peals the skins one by one changing things as he progresses, expanding his characters personalities, before diving into the meat of the onion’s core. Just when you think you have it all figured out, everything is not what it seams to be.

Donald Sutherland as Jerome Debney in The Burnt Orange Heresy. Photos courtesy of Sony Classics

The acting is exceptionally good with Claes Bang slowing revealing his character by feeding more of his sordid life at the right moments. James has a flamboyant air about him, but his past is about to catch up to him. It’s an unforgettable character that weaves a trap that only he will be able to escape from.

As James’ surprise confidant, Berenice, Elizabeth Debicki (Widows) steals a few scenes while giving her character reasons for teaming up with James. Much like Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s Marnie, she gives a performance that will chill and then make you shudder. It’s one you won’t want to miss.

Both icons Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland are at their best setting up the storyline for characters James and Berenice as they carry out their devious plan. It’s been sometime since Jagger has been in a film going back to 2008 when he had a cameo in the movie The Bank Job. Seeing him here in this pivotal role, gives me thoughts of hope to see him again real soon.

Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis in The Burnt Orange Heresy. Photos courtesy of Sony Classics

Southerland on the other hand has been going strong nearing 200 credits in his career. Along with The Burnt Orange Heresy he appears in the film Ad Astra and also Judge Straight in the movie American Hangman. Here as Debney he becomes the center of the storyline. A loner who just wants to stay out of the limelight, he has even chosen to destroy all his paintings to throw away his past. He’s also very taken by the lovely Berenice who starts to bring him out of his shell giving him new life. Their scenes get very touching and entice the audience that there’s hope that Debney will start anew.

The Burnt Orange Heresy has been rated R by the MPAA for some sexual content/nudity, language, drug use and violence. The violence is disturbing and the nudity combined with sex stylish, so beware when thinking of bringing those under 17 to see the film.

A great film to go back to a theater instead being interrupted at home in front of your TV. As always, mask up and bring a little hand jell if it make you feel more at ease. Check ahead to see if the theater is taking extra precautions.

FINAL ANALYSIS: An excellent film with twists and thrills. (5 out of 5 stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland, Alessandro Fabrizi and Rosalind Halstead
Directed by: Giuseppe Capotondi
Written by: Scott B. Smith, Charles Willeford (novel)
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content/nudity, language, drug use and violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. 39 Min.
Opening Date: August 21, 2020
Distributed by: Sony Classics
Released in: Theaters in Miami Dade, Broward, & Palm Beach Counties Florida. For other locations please check your local listings.

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