Friday, August 7, 2020

Movie theaters reopen with some stylish 'Heresy' among the first in line

It's a tall order to be among the first films playing at theaters opening now during a months-old pandemic, but "The Burnt Orange Heresy" mostly fits the bill. I mean, its lean, lanky cast, led by a trio of six-footers, Claes Bang (6-4), Elizabeth Debicki (6-3) and Donald Sutherland (still close to 6-4 himself at a just-turned 85), occasionally tower over material based on a 50-year-old novel of the same name.

That leaves a rather diminutive-looking Mick Jagger (usually an active 5-10), at least opposite the other members of this sophisticated quartet, looking up as a wealthy art collector always trying to find some extensive satisfaction. In fact, the latest venture for his tricky Joseph Cassidy is a doozy that involves the pill-popping critic (Bang) and the introverted artist (Sutherland).

The scene-stealing Debicki, coming off what should have been a nominated supporting turn in "Widows," doesn't just tag along, either. She gets rather heavily embroiled as, believe it or not, a school teacher from Duluth named Berenice, who just drops in on a fascinating, Milan-based lecture given by Bang's James Figueras. It's titled "The Power of the Critic" and, believe me, we haven't seen or heard anything yet.

Berenice and James, as played by the Danish Bang with the same attraction he has shown off in both 2017's "The Square" and "Dracula" (on Netflix), follow up with more than just art talk. When they get to Cassidy's "summer cottage" estate on Lake Como, Sutherland's mysteriously eccentric old painter joins the fray, and so do a few twists and turns.  

The one slight problem with this stylish collaboration from director Giuseppe Capatondi and screenwriter Scott B. Smith ("A Simple Plan") is that you likely won't have much sympathy for any of their devilish characters. Just play along for what seems like a quick-moving 100 minutes and enjoy being back in a movie theater.

"The Burnt Orange Heresy" opens today at Atlas Cinemas in Mayfield Heights and Mentor.

Rated "R" by MPAA: sexual content/nudity, language, drug use and violence; 1:38; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

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