“The Burnt Orange Heresy” (Sony)

Elizabeth Debicki and Donald Sutherland star in a scene from the 2020 film "The Burnt Orange Heresy." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS/Jose Haro, courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)

By Catholic News Service

Literate but mannered suspense drama, set in Northern Italy where a high-powered art dealer (Mick Jagger) gives a shady critic (Claes Bang) the opportunity for a world-class scoop when he offers him the chance to interview a famously reclusive painter (Donald Sutherland). But he also blackmails the writer into stealing one of the master’s much-coveted works in the process. Aware of her partner’s apparent good fortune but in the dark about his peril is the scribe’s newly acquired live-in girlfriend (Elizabeth Debicki).

Sutherland is in clover as a courtly eccentric as, too, is Jagger playing the embodiment of aggressive decadence while cinematographer David Ungaro capitalizes on the foggy loveliness of Lake Como. Yet, in adapting Charles Willeford’s 1971 novel, director Giuseppe Capotondi and screenwriter Scott B. Smith play with the supposedly blurred boarders between truth and illusion without providing viewers with any definite insight. They also establish the bond between the central couple partly by lingering in the bedroom they share within hours of their first meeting.

Scenes of harsh but bloodless violence, strong sexual content, including graphic nonmarital activity as well as upper female and rear male nudity, drug use, about a dozen rough terms, a few crude and crass expressions. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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