Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Love Is the Devil (1998)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

1971. As painter Francis Bacon is being officially welcomed at a prestigious retrospective of his work at the Grand Palais in Paris, his lover George Dyer is dying of a drugs and drink overdose in their hotel room.

An unsuccessful minor criminal, Dyer becomes Bacon's lover when the latter discovers him burgling his house in 1964. Dyer is introduced to the demi-monde of the infamous Colony Room club in Soho. Their sado-masochistic love affair is at first a happy one - a marriage of opposites - until Bacon eventually begins to tire of Dyer's increasing misery with the coterie who surround the artist. Exiled from his own petty-criminal milieu and increasingly dependent on drugs and drink, Dyer drifts steadily into mental turmoil, expressed in a recurring nightmare. He feels sexual humiliation as Bacon encourages new lovers. Dyer's decline contrasts starkly with Bacon's rising fame, self-absorption and indulgent lifestyle. Although Bacon always remains loyal in the last instance, after a long period of mutual betrayals, stormy rows and separations, Dyer ends his life.

Sight and Sound, September 1998