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Ben Kingsley and Ezra Miller in Biography of Mary Harron – The Hollywood Reporter

A portrait of a world celebrity’s passion for art seen by a young man who still has some illusions to shatter, Mary Harron’s Dalíland revolves around the famous Surrealist, played by Ben Kingsley with restraint and dignity, while gently directing the spotlight towards his complicated wife/muse, Gala, a role that Barbara Sukowa attracts the most attention of the film. Much of the talk surrounding the premiere will involve the scandal-ridden actor Ezra Miller, who briefly played the artist in his youth; but that bit of acting proves to be very relevant, and the film deserves a rating – as enjoyable and enlightening, if quite familiar in its storytelling – beyond that particular tabloid story.

Public life is almost inseparable from the art of Salvador Dalí as well as the work of Andy Warhol (an earlier subject by Harron, 1996). I shot Andy Warhol), so it’s fitting that our 1974 introduction to him – through the eyes of James (Christopher Briney), a new employee at the New York gallery handling Dalí’s work – is at a party: A decadent gathering is held in the middle of the afternoon, in a St. Regis, the Spanish artist has been in every winter for 20 years. Among those who were clingy and would look gorgeous, Alice Cooper (one of the most notorious celebrities of the time) barely caught the eye. Like everyone there, he was there because he held Dalí’s interest.

Dalíland

Key point

Entertaining and really eye-opening.

Location: Toronto International Film Festival (Gala Presentation)
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Barbara Sukowa, Christopher Briney, Rupert Graves, Alexander Beyer, Andreja Pejic, Mark McKenna, Zachary Nachbar-Seckel, Avital Lvova, Suki Waterhouse, Ezra Miller
Manager: Mary Harron
Writer: John C. Walsh

1 hour 44 minutes

Or his wife’s. James is sent here by Dalí’s technical officer Christoffe (Alexander Beyer) to bring Gala Dalí a briefcase full of cash, and tells her to expect something else, too. A woman with “the lust of an electric eel”, she adds handsome men to the couple’s entourage freely as he adds women – unlike the alleged Salvador single, she actually slept with them.

James was warned to reject her advances without hurting her feelings, which was less difficult than usual, as Gala gave her body and heart to Jesus: It was , to Jeff Fenholt’s newcomer Zachary Nachbar-Seckel, who currently plays the Messiah. In Jesus Christ Superstar.

Clueless Jeff is here for comic relief and social intrigue, but his presence also allows Harron and screenwriter John C. Walsh to unravel Dalís’ creative/commercial partnership. During their early years, Salvador painted while Gala did the grueling job of finding buyers. She built him up but didn’t share his aura, especially after Hollywood embraced him and (she thought) sarcastically asked why he married some old lady. .

In Jeff, she has another embryonic artist to nurture, though one whose genius only she can see. The cartoon, however, may speak to her current obsession, the film quietly but utterly serious about her wounded pride and her unsung importance to the career of a young woman. art star.

Her importance is not without being attributed to Salvador. James testifies to a deeply enigmatic partnership in which seemingly insignificant betrayals but minor moments of disrespect are strictly controlled. Kingsley was annoyed when Salvador recounted the beginning of their love affair.

As he spoke to James, the two were taken to the rocky shore where the pair met: When the young artist saw Gala for the first time from afar, Miller worked frantically to create the right look. ordinary artistic flair, then went to the young woman and immediately collapsed in a frenzy. Dalí says that as a young man he suffered “many horrors and strange laughter”; but Gala doesn’t see him as crazy. That fact alone could explain his loyalty and thrifty devotion, for the next half of his life.

James had started as an assistant painter, tasked by Christoffe with making sure he created enough work for an upcoming show. Between chores and meaningful conversations, he gets a deeper insight into this tiny ecosystem from its other inhabitants: Captain Moore (Rupert Graves), who serves as Gala’s secretary and (worth it) sadly) understand their finances better than anyone; Salvador’s current muse is Amanda Lear (transgender model Andreja Pejic), who was rumored to be “he” when they met; and Suki Waterhouse’s Ginesta, who accepts that in this world she is merely “jewelry,” something “beautiful for parties” but ultimately unimportant.

(Ginesta and James have a romantic relationship, an essential part of his introduction to urban sophistication. But in the end Amanda will provide the most empathetic perspectives on Dalís’ unique lifestyle. )

The picture’s point of view and focus on tight chronology help it overcome many familiar pitfalls in biographies. We made this trip only for as long as it took to produce the work for this important exhibition, then retreated briefly to Spain after the failure. Briney makes James roll his eyes but isn’t nave, smart enough to accept the novel parts of the picture without buying every reason assigned to him.

The James-focused movie is one of the things that stops Dalíland from being a showcase of prize bait to a great performance. It’s lucky, because while Kingsley is funny, engaging, and thoroughly convincing, Sukowa meets him on every level, and has enough screenwriter empathy to steal the movie from him from time to time. Sure, the film makes this marriage look as compelling as any painting or sculpture Salvador Dalí has ​​produced – and makes the carnival around the couple, however what is needed is for their dynamism, looks tame by comparison.

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