The Burnt Orange Heresy

There are few things more ignorant than film critics claiming Rashomon is about the relativity of objective truth. Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 drama is about absolute truth – and The Burnt Orange Heresy might be the first movie of the 21st century to properly play around with the same high concept. There’s no unreliable narrator in this story about an art critic who’s set up to interview a reclusive artist in return for grabbing one of his rare works. Instead, it’s established early that all of our main players consider lies to be a big part of their daily social interaction. This also allows Heresy to be a real showcase for two underappreciated stars. Danish actor Claes Bang is already in his fifties, but his amoral turn as the disgraced critic still makes him look like a prime contender to become the next James Bond. Elizabeth Debicki (with her turn in Tenet delayed as a breakout performance) steals the film as a humble femme fatale existing outside of all the clichés. Mick Jagger pops up as the millionaire backing the scheme, and seems perfectly happy to be able to take over roles that used to go to the late John Hurt. Donald Sutherland has an equally fine time as the surprisingly chatty painter whose proud pontificating turns out to have a purpose. That’s a cast of four carrying an arthouse production which is easily one of the most entertaining films of this stalled year in cinema.