Like Silent Storm last week this biopic of designer/architect Eileen Gray from Northern Ireland director Mary McGuckian (The Man On The Train, Rag Tale) gets a belated release. If memory serves it opened the 2015 JDIFF and then promptly fell off the radar. Possibly because its beset with problems.


nbsp;
pening with an auction for Eileen Gray’s Dragon armchair, the action moves to an elderly Gray (Brady; 32A, How About You) watching slides of what is probably her most famous design: the modern minimalist house E-1207 in Cap Martin on the French Riviera. We then flashback to Paris of the thirties and Gray impresses journalist Jean Badovici (Scianna, Baaria) with her latest exhibition of functional art and so he proposes an article on her. The two fall in love, the passion inspiring Gray to design E-1027 but jealous Swiss architect Le Corbusier (Perez) defaces the white walls with what many call ugly murals.
his drama has a niche audience with anyone outside a vested interest in the Modern Movement and Gray’s designs struggling to find the goings on all that intoxicating; the dialogue veers from sounding like two lecturers debating in an empty hall or culled straight from memoirs and yet, bar those students of the form, are never privy to the wider context: what made Gray’s stand out? What were other artists/designers/architects up to in that era? The characters, cold and aloof, are a bore and don’t entice enagement with their various predicaments; villain of the piece Le Corbusier is the only one with any real life but in regularly breaking the fourth wall - a biased opinion on the scene unfolding - snaps the audience out of the moment.
cGuckian’s framing is sometimes stiff as if one is watching actors mill about an art exhibition, the velvet rope just out of shot. The lifeless pace isn’t helped by the syrupy soundtrack which drips over every line of dialogue, which itself sounds dubbed. The biggest fault though it’s that The Price of Desire doesn’t sell E-1027 as something beautiful or how ground-breaking the design was.
one of this is the cast’s fault; although Brady and Badovici fail to convince as lovers, they are strong in their respective roles, showing some talent for getting their mouth around very mealy dialogue. It can look pretty too with McGuckian doing what she can to bask the film in gorgeous sunlight.
nbsp;