Seasoned British actor Timothy Spall introduces us to the high art of architecture and the depths of which misunderstood artists suffer in Australian writer-director Daniel Graham’s latest film.
Spall plays architect Alfred Rott, a womanising, foul-mouthed genius, whose latest commission for an arts centre in Brussels, has left its conservative clients in a spot of bother. They see the design as resembling a part of the female anatomy, setting exasperated Rott off on a diatribe of defense that he won’t recover from. He continues to pontificate as the clients walk out the door.
That night as a guest at a decadent orgy, he receives a mysterious invitation to visit a wealthy and eccentric recluse on the island of Malta who calls himself ‘The Grand Duke Of Corsica’. Rott accepts and arrives at the Duke’s stunning villa. Following the sound of music through room after darkened room, Rott stumbles upon the Duke hiding in shadows. Their first exchange begins over an art piece – another reference to genitalia – before the true reason for Rott’s summoning is revealed. There’s a job in the offing: the Duke wants Rott to build him a personalised mausoleum in preparation for his own death. Rott decides that in order to create something so intimate, he must get to know the man first.
So a bromance ensues between the two men – rocky at first, but they are to become very close. They bond through conversation – sharing both their privileged perceptions and experiences of the world. Neither character being very likeable.
When a malaria outbreak on the island causes the entire population to flee, fires break out and pandemonium ensues. But Rott remains to finish the project that may be the greatest, yet most invisible, creation of his remarkable career.
There is a parallel storyline of a 13th century young man who is set on his path to becoming St. Francis of Assisi, that altogether gives the film a similar feel to that of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – meandering, obtuse and more suited to a male audience.
The Grand Duke of Corsica makes its Australian premiere as part of the 2021 British Film Festival, screening from Wednesday 10 November at participating Palace cinemas. Check your local guides for show times.
About The Grand Duke of Corsica
Duration: 94 min
Rating: MA 15+
Directed by Daniel Graham
Stars Timothy Spall, Peter Stormare, Matt Hookings, Alicia Agnes