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The Burnt Orange Heresy
Photograph: Sony PicturesThe Burnt Orange Heresy

Preview: The Burnt Orange Heresy

An erotic thriller with a sassy '90s vibe, it's a dastardly tale of double-crossing in the art world

Written by
Stephen A Russell

Remember the '90s, when erotic thrillers were a dime a dozen? Well, if you’ve been hankering for some more of that steamy good stuff, it looks like The Burnt Orange Heresy has you sorted.

Debuting at the Venice Film Festival last year, back when glamorous international events were still a thing, Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi’s art heist movie closed the program.

A real looker, it pairs Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki (Widows) with The Square and Netflix Dracula star Claes Bang, and goodness, if there aren’t cracklings of electric frisson arcing between them. He plays art critic James Figueras, mooching around Milan trying to make ends meet while feeding his drug addiction.

Delivering art history lectures while getting dubious on dodgy provenance, he’s hardly the nicest chap, but this being the movies, he nevertheless manages to hook in Debicki’s American tourist Berenice. And temperatures rise pretty quickly.

Attending a party thrown by art dealer Cassidy, as played by Mick Jagger, the newly minted couple also meet celebrated painter Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland). And here’s where things start to get really interesting. With Debney’s output far from prolific these days, Cassidy’s tired of waiting. Instead, he outrageously tasks the Berenice and James with breaking into Jerome’s studio and stealing one of his works in progress. They outrageously agree.

Capotondi’s English-language debut sets up a fairly rollicking misadventure very loosely adapted from the Charles Willeford novel by screenwriter Scott B Smith. The location work’s lush, as are the film’s leads, and it's great to see Jagger acting on the big screen for the first time since 2009's The Bank Job. The duplicitous behaviour a-go-go recalls Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley with a dash of The Thomas Crown Affair thrown in for good measure. Basically all the reasons to watch it, plus a silky piano score by composer Craig Armstrong (The Great Gatsby). Expect a devilishly good diversion for fans of twisty-turny shenanigans by double-dealing do-badder babes.

The Burnt Orange Heresy is in cinemas from July 27.

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