The
 Vincent

PEREZ
Archives

Ireland-Belgium

2015

Synopsis: It was during the summer of 1925 that Irish modernist architect and designer Eileen Gray discovered the perfect piece of land near the little railway station of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, where she and her Romanian lover Jean Badovici would build their seaside Villa E1027. The quirky name comes from a code - 10 for the letter J in Jean, 2 for the B in Badovici and 7 for Gray’s first letter. Between 1937 and 1938  architect and painter Le Corbusier drew a series of sexually explicit murals in the villa with the approval of Badovici. Eileen Gray considered this as an invasion while Le Corbusier thought of his paintings as a gift. The house remained in Badovici's possession until his death in 1956.

Production Notes:
Filmed in 2013 on location at Eileen Gray's iconic e1027 Villa in Roquebrune Cap Martin and in Vezelay, France, as well as at Monev Studios in Brussels, Belgium, where many of Gray's Parisian interiors were faithfully re-created. The film is an Irish-Belgian co-production.

12/13/13: On the final day of the shoot, the production staged a reenactment of the February 2009 record-breaking $28m Paris sale at Christie’s of Gray’s Dragon Chair. The reenactment will be the opening scene and recreates what remains the highest price paid for an item of 20th century design. Cheska Vallois of Galerie Vallois, who bid for the anonymous private client who bought the chair, plays herself in the production and famously explained the high price-tag to reporters immediately after the auction by saying "it can only be the price of desire."

Reviews:

Leslie Felperin, The Guardian:
"B
iopic of architect Eileen Gray fails to build interest. This docudrama taking on her life, loves and career highlights is sometimes borderline risible, but even so, one can’t but fail to be impressed it got made at all, given the subject is really mostly of interest to design geeks and those fascinated by intellectual property law... Somehow the tacky piano score amplifies the ineptitude of Mary McGuckian’s direction."

Donald Clarke, The Irish Times:
"
The film certainly has things to say to the uninitiated, but, sadly, it chooses to say them via hunks of indigestible dialogue that play to the rhythms of the online encyclopaedia... Too many Cote d’Azure exteriors are shot in weird soft focus that suggests comic dream sequences from Absolutely Fabulous. The film-makers are so delighted with Brian Byrne’s lovely music that they shovel it over virtually every scene, thus suggesting a condition of permanent emotional climax."

Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter:
"
A noble aspiration, but sadly this house is built of very flimsy materials. Beyond students of architecture and feminist cultural theory, audience appeal will be slim...
McGuckian and her cinematographer Stefan Von Bjorn clothe the story in a bleached-out pastel palette suffused with Mediterranean sunshine, rendering every tableaux as artfully hazy as a high-end shampoo commercial... Brian Byne's syrupy, piano-saturated score is no help, wafting intrusively across every scene like cheap perfume... The Price of Desire features a capable core cast, but they are all stuck in one-note mode... Gray's important story is worth telling, but with more passion and insight than this starchy biopic can muster."

Paul Whitington, Independent:
"Mary McGuckian's The Price of Desire  takes a wonderful story and makes a bit of a hash of it. Orla Brady is Eileen Gray, the Wexford-born designer and architect who became a leading figure in the Modernist movement in Paris in the 1930s and 40s. In Ms McGuckian's film, we find out how Le Corbusier and others passed off her work as their own, but The Price of Desire is stilted and clumsy and unimaginative in the extreme."

Entertainment, ie:
"The dialogue veers from sounding like two lecturers debating in an empty hall or culled straight from memoirs and yet, bar those students of the form, are never privy to the wider context: what made Gray’s stand out? The characters, cold and aloof, are a bore and don’t entice enagement with their various predicaments; villain of the piece Le Corbusier is the only one with any real life but in regularly breaking the fourth wall - a biased opinion on the scene unfolding - snaps the audience out of the moment. McGuckian’s framing is sometimes stiff as if one is watching actors mill about an art exhibition, the velvet rope just out of shot. The lifeless pace isn’t helped by the syrupy soundtrack which drips over every line of dialogue, which itself sounds dubbed. The biggest fault though it’s that The Price of Desire doesn’t sell E-1027 as something beautiful or how ground-breaking the design was.

Joyce Glasser, Mature Times:
"Irish filmmaker Mary McGuckian’s attempt to restore Eileen Gray’s reputation is nothing if not earnest. It is perhaps her reverence and desire to get the facts straight that has hampered the dramatisation. The result is an expository and surprisingly dull film that adds little to the documentary, Gray Matters.

Clive Botting, Huffington Post:
"The story of the egotistical Le Corbusier (Vincent Perez), 'The Father of Modernism,' determined to erase the Irish bisexual modernist designer Eileen Gray from the memory and her relationship with her lover Jean Badovici (Francesco Scianna), the editor of the influential L'Architecture Vivante is the stuff of rivalry and inflated egos. Unfortunately Mary McGuckian's low budget period biopic is a limp along, lack lustre portrait with a stilted script and at times is more akin to a shoot for a fashion mag."

Spoool.ie:
"
Unfortunately the film about one of the most important figures in the Modernist Movement in architecture – directed by a woman and having a female actor in the lead role – has come out as a melodramatic love story devoid of any real emotion... The costumes, look of the film and acting are all well worth enjoying. It is the material they have been presented with and ultimately how it has been sewn together and presented to us that is the film’s downfall. The blame for this rest solely at Mary McGuckian’s feet."

Filmuforia:
"Writer/director Mary McGuckian (Best) has done the avant-gardist designer and architect Eileen Gray (1878-1976), no favours as the main focus of her feature bio-pic The Price of Desire: a turgidly slow and Kitsch affair, it also manages to be a pretentious melodrama of the worst kind, colliding frontally with Gray’s cool artistic output and her self determined personal life... The scenes shot by DoP Stefan von Bjorn in the renovated Villa E 1o27 are the highlight – at least we see, in detail, Gray’s – then revolutionary – approach, to make the border between furniture and architecture indistinct. The rest are of the images are on a par with the narrative: grandstanding, pompous and utterly unimaginative. Just the opposite of what Eileen Gray stood for."

 

Cast:

Vincent Perez.....................Le Corbusier
Orla Brady...........................Eileen Gray
Alanis Morissette.............Marisa Damia
Francesco Scianna............Jean Badovici

Credits: 

Directed by.......................Mary McGuckian
Written by......................Delphine Lehericey
Photography by.................Stefan Von Bjorn

 

Premiered in March 2015 at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

 

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