This review originally appeared as part of our JDIFF 2015 coverage
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 Price of Desire focuses mainly on E-1027, a house Eileen Gray designed and built in the 1920s with Jean Badovici, himself an architect and critic at the time, in the south of France. The third main player in this tale is Le Corbusier, the French-Swiss architect, designer and painter.
Orla Brady plays Gray and does a fine job at embodying the style and grace yet ferocious determination and dedication to her art. We are lead to believe Gray was a slave to her craft and would sacrifice all to the altar of architecture. Yet this is at odds with the core story of her relationship with Badovici. While certainly her relationships would have no doubt impacted on her work in The Price of Desire, we get a stereotypical portrayal of a woman besotted by her lover longing for his approval and reciprocation of her devotion.
Le Corbusier is a core figure as it was he who painted all over the walls of E-1027 infuriating Gray. Vincent Perez plays Le Corbusier who is portrayed as a buffoon constantly parading around in shorts that leave nothing to the imagination. He also narrates the film in an infuriating method of turning to the camera to talk to the audience. Voice-overs are never an enjoyable filmic device and rarely work but breaking the 4th wall in such a winking, sneering way is incredibly detrimental to the film.
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.
Writer/Director: Mary McGuckian Year: 2014 Country of Origin: Ireland Duration: 108 minutes Cast: Orla Brady, Vincent Perez, Francesco Scianna