43 user 58 critic

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)

Unrated | | Biography, Drama, Romance | 7 October 1998 (USA)
Biography of British painter Francis Bacon focuses on his relationship with his lover, George Dyer, a former small time crook.


John Maybury


John Maybury

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

7 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Director: John Maybury
Stars: Alana, Rupert Everett, Julia Fodo
Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

Emmy Coer, a computer genius, devises a method of communicating with the past by tapping into undying information waves. She manages to reach the world of Ada Lovelace, founder of the idea ... See full summary »

Director: Lynn Hershman-Leeson
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Francesca Faridany, Timothy Leary
Wittgenstein (1993)
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), whose principal interest was the ... See full summary »

Director: Derek Jarman
Stars: Karl Johnson, Michael Gough, Tilda Swinton
The Mother (2003)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A woman has a passionate affair with a man half her age, who is also sleeping with her daughter.

Director: Roger Michell
Stars: Anne Reid, Daniel Craig, Anna Wilson-Jones
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

As a group of individuals waits for a plane on a remote Scottish island, an enigmatic stranger tells them a story about an Italian countryman who visits Venice.

Director: Timothy Neat
Stars: John Berger, Hamish Henderson, Lucia Lanzarini
Caravaggio (1986)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A retelling of the life of the celebrated 17th-century painter through his brilliant, nearly blasphemous paintings and his flirtations with the underworld.

Director: Derek Jarman
Stars: Noam Almaz, Dexter Fletcher, Nigel Terry
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

From Time Out Film Guide Beatt's first feature centres on a staggering performance from Swinton: part Diva, part Harpy, part woman struggling to cope and make sense of it all. She plays ... See full synopsis »

Director: Cynthia Beatt
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Féodor Atkine, Lutz Weidlich
Edward II (1991)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In this Derek Jarman version of Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan drama, in modern costumes and settings, Plantagenet king Edward II hands the power-craving nobility the perfect excuse by ... See full summary »

Director: Derek Jarman
Stars: Steven Waddington, Kevin Collins, Andrew Tiernan
Love & Rage (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

This film is based on true events that happened on Achill Island off the West coast of Ireland, in The Valley House.

Director: Cathal Black
Stars: Greta Scacchi, Daniel Craig, Stephen Dillane
Man to Man (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Shortly before the WW II, Ella Gericke takes on the identity of her husband Max after his death to work instead of him in the factory. She continues to be Max until she herself doesn't even... See full summary »

Director: John Maybury
Stars: Tilda Swinton
The Deep End (2001)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A woman spirals out of control while trying to keep her son from being found culpable in a murder investigation.

Directors: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic, Jonathan Tucker
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

In the 1970s, aliens send a female android diplomat to Earth on a mission of peace. She lands in war-torn Palestine instead of MIT by mistake and meets a friendly UK journalist there. They begin a series of insightful conversations.

Director: Peter Wollen
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Patrick Bauchau, Bill Paterson


Cast overview, first billed only:
Derek Jacobi ... Francis Bacon
Daniel Craig ... George Dyer
Tilda Swinton ... Muriel Belcher
Anne Lambton ... Isabel Rawsthorne
Adrian Scarborough ... Daniel Farson
Karl Johnson ... John Deakin
Annabel Brooks Annabel Brooks ... Henrietta Moraes
Richard Newbould Richard Newbould ... Blonde Billy (as Richard Newbold)
Ariel de Ravenel Ariel de Ravenel ... French Official
Tallulah Tallulah ... Ian Board
Andy Linden Andy Linden ... Ken Bidwell
David Kennedy ... Joe Furneval
Gary Hume Gary Hume ... Volker Dix
Damian Dibben ... Brighton Rent Boys
Antony Cotton ... Brighton Rent Boys


In the 1960s, British painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) surprises a burglar and invites him to share his bed. The burglar, a working class man named George Dyer, 30 years Bacon's junior, accepts. Bacon finds Dyer's amorality and innocence attractive, introducing him to his Soho pals. In their sex life, Dyer dominates, Bacon is the masochist. Dyer's bouts with depression, his drinking and pill popping, and his satanic nightmares strain the relationship, as does his pain with Bacon's casual infidelities. Bacon paints, talks with wit, and, as Dyer spins out of control, begins to find him tiresome. Could Bacon care less? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Study for a portrait of Francis Bacon.


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Strand Releasing


UK | France | Japan | USA


English | French

Release Date:

7 October 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£46,077 (United Kingdom), 20 September 1998, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$63,202, 11 October 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$343,023, 19 December 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Discussing how well DVD copies of this movie (about a gay British artist) were still selling in 2012, Derek Jacobi commented "that's because there are some scenes in which Daniel Craig is stark-bollock naked." See more »


Francis Bacon: In all the motor accidents I've seen, people strewn across the road, the first thing you think of is the strange beauty, the vision of it, before you think of trying to do anything. It's to do with the unusualness of it. I once saw a bad car accident on the large road, and the bodies were strewn about with broken glass from the car and the blood and the various possessions, and it was, in fact, very beautiful. I think the beauty in it is terribly elusive, but it just happened to be the ...
See more »


Features Battleship Potemkin (1925) See more »


Time On My Hands
Performed by Al Bowlly
Written by Vincent Youmans (as Youmans), Harold Adamson (as Adamson) & Mack Gordon (as Gordon)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Aimed at a small audience I think and will mostly alienate those outside of its target group
30 July 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When British painter Francis Bacon disturbs a burglar in his home, he invites George Dyer to come to bed with him in return for anything he wants to steal. This starts a relationship between the two that is as impatient and untrustworthy as it is passionate. Bacon draws on Dyer to compliment his work while at the same time Dyer begins to feel used and out of his depth in a relationship that draws him into the arty underworld of the time.

I don't know a great deal about Francis Bacon other than a passing knowledge of his work and I must admit that I had vague hopes that a film about the painter would give me a little more knowledge of him, his work or the circumstances around him; it's a shame then that it didn't really manage to do any of these things particularly well. Instead what it does is deliver a rather pretentious piece of film rather fails to really deliver anything of value for those of us who are not as smart and informed as others. Maybe of Bacon lovers (pardon the turn of phrase) this film serves as a minor insight into his life for them to um and ah over but for me it was simply a collection of blurry shots, overdone pretentious shots and arty sentiment.

The plot, for what it is, follows Bacon and Dyer together and separately as they destroy one another in various ways. It is as meaningful as watching paint dry because we are never allowed into these people as, well, people and the film seems more concerned with camera movement and minimalist sets. Of course part of this will appeal to the arty crowd as the direction tries to ape Bacon's style but I'm not sure if that was because his estate refused to have anything to do with the film or not. While not rubbish it is aimed at a select audience and I don't think I am in that group; a little annoying perhaps because I felt like the film was looking down its nose at me in the same way that Bacon did with Dyer but I suppose that's what I get for trying out something new!

What made it more worthwhile though was a collection of good performances throughout; none of them have particularly likable characters but they all deliver with passion. Certainly Jacobi is very good even if I came to dislike his Bacon's pretentious approach to life, art and others, but Jacobi never let up on his portrayal anyway. Craig is a good actor and he is like a hurt animal for most of the time here – eager to please but knowing he is out of his depth and suffering for it. Swinton is OK, Johnson is overdone and the rest of the support tend to just drift around like a collection of back street 'Darling!' clichés. However bleak and unlikeable performances from both Jacobi and Craig are worth seeing.

Overall this film was wasted on me as it seemed to be aimed at a very specific group of people who are much smarter than I. To me this was annoying as I felt inferior and irritated that the film did not throw me a bone to help me out with the subject. The direction, editing and themes come across as pretentious a bit too much and this did put me off but in fairness I'm not a big Bacon fan so maybe it was my fault. Anyway – fans of Bacon's work may wish to see this film to discuss his life further (whether they agree with the film or not) but for most of us this will come off as an elitist piece of cinema that does nothing to help the unaware and only serves to alienate 'the masses' from art.

28 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 43 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed