Daliland (Mary Harron, 2022, USA/France/UK)

Daliland is the latest film from director Mary Harron. Harron is perhaps best known for her 2000 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's iconic novel American Psycho, starring Christian Bale. While none of her other films have reached the level of that one, she has carved out a niche as a director of primarily period pieces. Daliland is no exception. Taking a cue from the model of films like Me and Orson Welles, in which a young man begins to enter the world of a mysterious and enigmatic artist, Daliland takes place in Salvador Dali's inner circle in New York in the 1970s.

The young man - dubbed "San Sebastian" by Dali - is played by newcomer Christopher Briney. Briney lacks a personality on screen, but it is hard to compete with Ben Kingsley's Dali, who dominates the show. The real highlight of the film however is the great Barbara Sukowa Dali's wife Gala. She was the dominant force in their relationship, and the movie demonstrates this quite well. Sukowa has lost none of the verve or energy that characterized her early work in the great German films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Daliland is a formulaic biopic, only briefly leaving the present with some flashbacks that feature none other than Ezra Miller as a young Dali. Unsurprisingly, Miller was not featured in the materials promoting the film at the Toronto Film Festival. It remains to be seen whether his presence in the film will help secure the film distribution in the United States, or present an obstacle to its distribution, given the allegations that have come out about Miller. The other main deficit of the film is that the filmmakers did not get the rights to showcase Dali's work, leaving somewhat of a gaping hole in the film. Worth watching for Dali fans.



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