Johnny Depp’s last film as director was a ‘narcissistic’ disaster
So Johnny Depp thinks he can direct? Apparently so, with news Monday that the dubiously justified movie star has lined up her first directing gig in 25 years.
According to to the Hollywood Reporter, Depp will direct “Modigliani,” a biopic about Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. The project represents Depp’s latest push for a career comeback, following his grim but legally successful defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
If Depp is to restore his professional reputation by directing his second feature, he’ll have to manage multiple people, check his ego, downplay his flair for off-screen drama, and deliver quality work. Unfortunately, his history as a director does not bode well.
In 1997, Depp decided to direct, co-write, and star in “The Brave,” a neo-western with an unlikely and problematic premise, a tragic production story, and a past far beyond his first Marlon Brando as that co-starred. Depp’s first directorial effort was harshly criticized, with Call timeout exceeded it is the “madness of grandeur” of the actor, or an exercise in megalomania and delusion of grandeur.
The movie was so bad it never came out. However, many Depp fans online may not realize it as they celebrated the “Modigliani” news with throwback photos of Depp performing “The Brave” and the hashtags “#JohnnyDeppRises” and “#JohnnyDeppWon”.
In 1997, Johnny Depp didn’t just star in The Brave, he also directed it. In the spring of 2023, he will once again be behind the camera to direct Modigliani. 🎥 #JohnnyDeppRises #JohnnyDeppWon #JohnnyDeppKeepsWinning #JohnnyDeppIsALegend pic.twitter.com/e65UUjv7vu
— Wendy Campbell 🏴☠️⚓️💜 (@campbedream) August 16, 2022
According to the film’s premise, Depp plays a Native American husband and father named Raphael, living in poverty on the edge of a landfill. For $50,000, which he can leave to his family, Raphaël agrees to star in a snuff film in which he is tortured and killed. Brando plays a mysterious character who offers Raphael money and engages in a “windy philosophy about death,” according to in Variety magazine.
As for the production’s backstory, it’s as gruesome as it gets. Depp took over as director from Aziz Ghazal, the director of the USC film school reserve, who originally opted for the Gregory McDonald novel on which the film is based. reported the Los Angeles Times.
On Dec. 1, 1993, shortly before work on the film began, Ghazal bludgeoned his 13-year-old daughter and ex-wife to death, the Times reported. He then committed suicide, although his body was not found for a month.
When “The Brave” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, Depp, then 33, said he was deeply moved to tell the story of a man who sacrifices himself for his family.
“I felt driven to make this movie,” Depp said. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It almost tore me to shreds.
Unfortunately for Depp, the film also ended up costing him personally $2 million of his own money, which he contributed to the $5 million budget, the Times said. Due to “devastating” reviews, Depp decided against giving it an official theatrical release.
Critics suggest that Depp’s choices as director and co-writer are to blame for the film’s problems.
Variety titled ‘The Brave’, a ‘turgid and incredible’ film with Depp offering ‘further proof that Hollywood stars trying to expand their range are likely to outrun it’. Depp also displayed “age-old Hollywood bad faith” in his depiction of Native Americans, rendering them “generic” in a way that could be “considered exploitative or insulting,” Variety added.
Timeout focused on what he called the film’s “two fatal flaws”. The film is “tediously slow”, as well as “extremely narcissistic as the camera repeatedly focuses on Depp’s bandana head and swaying torso”.
The producers of “Modigliani,” which include legendary actor Al Pacino and veteran producer Barry Navidi, seem to believe that Depp, now a 59-year-old Oscar-nominated veteran of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, has matured enough in as an artist to carry out their long-standing project on Modigliani.
The film is set in 1916 and covers “48 eventful and eventful hours” in the life of the painter and sculptor who died at age 35 in Paris of tuberculous meningitis, without ever achieving success during his lifetime, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The casting has not yet been announced.
Producer Navidi called Depp “a true artist with an incredible vision to bring this great story to the screen,” according to THR. Depp said he was “incredibly honored and truly honored” to be able to tell Modigliani’s story. “It was a life of great hardship, but eventual triumph — a universally human story that all viewers can relate to,” he told THR.
For Depp fans, his return to acting, including as a director, is “our victory”, as one proclaimed.
— Scott Cardinal (@ScottStories) August 15, 2022
Others viewed this news with skepticism, including Jezebel writer Audra Heinrichs who called Depp “the most disgusting Renaissance man in the world”.
As well as “making up millions” as the face of Dior, releasing a new album with guitar legend Jeff Beck, and returning to star as King Louis XV in another European biopic, Depp’s new work in as a director means he joined Hollywood. Pipeline from alleged abuser to director, Heinrichs said.
Others in this circle include Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick. It’s not yet clear how Depp will measure up to these men as movie geniuses, but Heinrichs said he shares their tendency to have suspicious personal or professional relationships with women.
Earlier this year, Depp won his second defamation lawsuit involving Heard’s domestic violence allegations, but for some he remains tainted by those allegations. He lost his first libel case in the UK, with a judge saying he abused Heard. Audio recordings released during the recent trial in Virginia also revealed that Depp could at times be a drunken, rambunctious, complacent narcissist.
Nevertheless, Depp gets back to work, making a film about a tortured artist. As Depp prepares to tell the story of Modigliani, it remains to be seen if he will be able to make a film about this artist and not about himself.