An important oddity in “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” based on the Charles Willeford’s novel, is the appearance of none other than Mick Jagger as a rich art collector. What’s more, Jagger as Joseph Cassidy, with a luxurious estate along Lake Como, has a pivotal role--engaging an art critic to steal a painting from a reclusive artist who keeps his work secretive.
The critic in this film, directed by Giuseppe Capotandi from a screenplay by Scott B. Smith, is James Figueras, played by Claes Bang, whom we meet while he lectures to a group of tourists in Milan and keeps them transfixed with a story that he then surprisingly says is a con. Figueras is a charmer, but dangerous to others and to himself.
The artist tagged to be robbed is Jerome Debney, played by Donald Sutherland, distinctive as usual given his ability to slip effectively into any character assigned him.
The film gets added fizz from Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis, who, if this were a film noir, might be called a femme fatale. We first see her sitting in the back of the tourist group that Figueras is manipulating. She finds him intriguing, and needless to say, he feels the same about her, and—well, the plot thickens.
The story gets increasingly outrageous, especially after the critic and artist meet, and given the personality of Figueras and the goal of Cassidy, what ultimately happens highlights the film’s spotlight on art world shenanigans. “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” while far from a work of art itself, does hold one’s attention. And it is amusing to see the craggy face of Jagger on screen in dramatic role. A Sony Pictures Classcs release. Reviewed March 9, 2020.