There’s a new Salvador Dalí movie about to hit theaters.
, starring Sir Ben Kingsley as the Surrealist, and Barbara Sukowa as his domineering muse and life partner Gala, is set to make its debut on the closing night of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) next month.
Here’s how explains the plot:
tells the story of the later years of the strange and fascinating marriage between the genius Dalí and his wife, Gala, as their seemingly unshakable bond begins to stress and fracture. Set in New York and Spain in 1973, the story is told through the eyes of James, a young assistant keen to make his name in the art world, who helps the eccentric and mercurial Dalí prepare for a big gallery show.
Will the apparently modestly budgeted movie be… good? Here are some reasons to hope it might be:
- It’s directed by Mary Harron, who was behind Christian Bale’s star-making turn in . Harron was also behind , so she knows artist psychodrama.
- Kingley sounds like he is really channeling the Surrealist spirit—literally, from the sound of this interview from last year: “At the beginning of some days, I knew that Dalí was reluctant to let me in, until he’d seen me go through certain hurdles,” Sir Ben said. “Then I’d think to myself, ‘Ah, Dali, yes’, and he let me in. That was an extraordinary feeling.”
- sounds leans into the swinging ’70s vibe, which is novel. Gala and Dalí had a notably unconventional relationship: she had an unquenchable libido and he was terrified of sex, so they had an arrangement where he watched her with other men. This particular film focuses on a very, very ‘70s pair of infidelities: Gala’s obsession with Jeff Fenholt, the original star of , and Dalí’s infatuation with Amanda Lear, the cover model for Roxy Music’s 1973 album
Here are a couple of other notable or odd things about this movie:
- According to Harron, Kingley’s performance as late Dalí resonates less with his Oscar-winning work as Gandhi and more with his role as the comic villain in .
- Herran says the film will celebrate the unloved late-period art of Dalí. “There’s a cliché of Dalí that all his interesting work was in the ’30s and ’40s but he remained an interesting, innovative artist until the end,” she said. This is the period when Dalí was doing shows of holograms and opening his amusement park-like museum in Figueros, Spain with a show of his jewelry. Should be interesting to see what they make of it all onscreen.
- Ezra Miller dons the mustache to play Young Dalí in a series of flashbacks made to look like old-timey films. “Ezra had like three days between finishing and starting and insisted on coming and doing our film,” Harron told last year. She’s likely regretting letting him have his way. A series of reports about Miller, included charges of assault and felony burglary, has rendered him toxic. Notably, TIFF completely left his name out of its announcement that it would be presenting the film.
doesn’t have a trailer yet, so I can’t say more. For those who can’t wait until comes out for a dose of Surrealist biography, you can always rent , the 2008 film starring actor Robert Pattinson in a truly off-the-wall performance as a young Dalí, in a tale about his same-sex romance with Federico García Lorca.