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|Index||17 reviews in total|
This is Maurice Pialat's masterpiece, one of the best French films ever
Unlike the title may induce, it's not a Van Gogh "classic" biography as Pialat only shows the last three months of the painter's life, from his arrival in Auvers sur Oise until his suicide.
The picture is constantly moving, intelligent, funny and masterfully photographed (some sequences along the river look like Renoirs's paintings). It's as much a movie about Pialat himself as about Van Gogh.
The scene between Vincent and his brother Theo , or the ones between the latter and her wife Jo are just extraordinary. And the way Pialat films Van Gogh's agony at the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers sur Oise is the mark of a genius.
Jacques Dutronc may not be a Vincent van Gogh lookalike, he's absolutely outstanding. And Bernard Le Coq as Theo makes his best performance so far.
I loved every golden minute of this film. It was honest, sensitive and
respectful of the artist and anyone who loves Van Gogh's paintings and
wants the fly-on-the-wall glimpse of his last days on earth will be in
for a wonderful experience.
Unlike such films as "Lust for Life" with the Academy Awards so visibly in mind, this one doesn't offer any mad scenes, or pulpitizing or self-mutilation. In other words, if you are looking for Kirk Douglas chewing up the scenery or Stanley Kramer, bullhorn in hand, preaching one of his messages, or, heaven forbid, "Mondo Cane", this will be a disappointment. Unlike so many biopics of artists' lives, this one doesn't sell out to the mass audience with cheap histrionics. It dares to respect its subject and treat it humanely and humbly.
Every object, every face, every scene evokes what Van Gogh would have witnessed himself before his death. Just walking through a field evokes the thrill of recognizing the scene from one of his paintings! As undramatic as it may seem to some, it's really quite exciting for those of us who revere the artist and his work. In fact, I was actually angry at the end of the film that the beauty finally had to stop.
I would recommend this with all my heart to those viewers who love Van Gogh's paintings and are in search of a film that respects the artist in his dying days. It is moving and honest.
If you haven't seen this movie yet, set aside a few hours and treat
yourself to this gem of a film.
Jacques Dutronc is great as the Von Gogh, but Alexandra London is fantastic stealing almost every scene she is in with Dutronc. Bernard Le Coq as big brother, Theo, turns in a good controlled performance as well.
The supporting cast is also first rate.
The movie covers the last two months of Van Gogh's life from his arrival in Auvers sur Oise ( then a sleepy suburb 17 miles from Paris) until his death from apparently self-inflicted wounds. He is buried there by the way, next to his brother Theo, and the inn where he stayed is still standing. (Google "Auvers-Sur-Oise") The sad part is that Van Gogh appeared to suffered from a form of depression, if it were today it could have been treated with proper medication. If he had lived 110 years later he might have been fine.
I loved the research they appeared to do on everything from period trains, blacksmiths, inn keepers, farmers, day laborers, other artists and family members. It has an authentic feel to it.
Another good part is the lack of a sappy soundtrack to detract from the story at hand. The lack of a soundtrack renders it almost as if you are standing in the same town watching what is going on. "Excuse me, are you Vincent Van Gogh?" The picture is beautifully photographed and as one IMDb'er from France pointed out in his comments "some sequences along the river look like Renoirs's paintings" It's true.
Don't miss this.
The strength of this film hinges on the plausibility of the account- if this is indeed an accurate portrayal of Van Gogh's last days then it at least has some innate value in that regard. Although the pain of V.G.'s suffering was excruciatingly heightened by the real-life pace, the film suffered overall from being too slow. I was left feeling depressed about Van Gogh and got the feeling that maybe some aspects of a person's life are better left undramatized. The character of "Van Gogh" ultimately comes across as a hopeless case--crazy, depressed, bitter, irresponsible and ill-tempered, hopelessly dependent on his brother and resentful to the point of suicide because of it. But is that the whole story? There must be more and this movie doesn't leave the viewer with the impression that any stones have been left unturned. Too much of this man's earlier life is unknown to us(assumed) and his actions and relationship with his brother, Theo have no real context for the viewer to truly sympathize or understand Van Gogh. And the relations he has with the love interests in the film are in many ways stilted and hard to believe. Van Gogh was a stormy, complex, singular type of human being whose story resists just this type of retelling. Nice try but I think this film missed.
The film focuses entirely on the final three months of the artist's
life, as he lived in Auvers, near Paris. What we get is a cinematic
study, not so much of Vincent himself, but of his relationship with
those around him in those final weeks: the doctor and his family, the
brother and his wife, the people at the hotel, his various love
interests. For a film about a painter, the plot has him painting very
little. The film is almost a soap opera of back-and-forth talk, mostly
serious but with some lighter moments mixed in. Too much dialogue is my
Vincent (Jacques Dutronc) comes across as introverted, shy, temperamental, intellectual, and unpredictable. He gets a lot of criticism of his painting from those around him. It's hardly a supportive environment, especially given how prosaic, trite, and banal these people are. Tensions arise over mundane issues like comparisons with contemporary painters, money, Vincent's recurring mental problems, romance, and so on.
The visuals look really good. Cinematography is competent and unobtrusive. Costumes and prod design seem authentic for the period and suggest strong tendencies toward a Victorian, prim, pretentious culture. Casting is acceptable. Acting is very good because it is so understated. Pace trends slow. There's very little music in this film, and no score; which conveys a sense of realism as people come and go amid the perfunctory activities of everyday life.
It's been said that legends don't look like legends when they are being made. I think that applies to Van Gogh, here. He's just another painter worrying about his art, suffering from mental and/or physical ailments, and surrounded by banal people. That would not be Hollywood's approach to this famous artist. But it's an approach that's far more realistic and believable. The legend stuff would come later.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The problem with making a biopic of an artist is the temptation to compose every frame as a painting; Vincente Minnelli already had this tendency so he was a logical choice to make Lust For Life, which I've yet to see. No one ever accused Maurice Pialet of either artistic or poetic tendencies given his predilection for the in-yer-face School of Film-making but he does succumb to the urge from time to time in this ... well WHAT exactly is a good question. It chooses to record only the final weeks in the life of Vincent Van Gogh, from his arrival at Auvers until he killed himself a few weeks later. Jacques Dutronc is not a natural actor to portray a passionate, tortured artist and Kirk Douglas was a much more obvious choice - though not having seen Lust For Life I am unable to comment on how well he justified his casting - being cool and cerebral, the ideal qualities for his role in, for example, Merci pour le chocolate. To be fair to Pialat I doubt if he was interested in seducing the viewer with pretty compositions or logical storytelling and his period research is pretty nigh faultless as are the performances particularly Bernard Le Coq as Theo. On balance this is a movie that needs to find its audience with little or no help from the director.
"Lust for life" of Minnelli is a great film, but in my opinion doesn't give a faithful portrait of Van Gogh: his nature is too romanticized. On the contrary this film of Pialat gives a real mirror of the inner nature of the great painter. I think Van Gogh was really so misanthrope as the film describes. This puts the film of Pialat above the one of Minnelli. Besides this film seems a moving painting, because if you pause the playing when you see the video you can see an impressionistic picture. this peculiarity is so marked that there are scenes that are in the film only for a visive aim (for example the Vincent's sister-in-law that washes herself in a tub). Even if "Lust for life" is a great film, I think "Van Gogh" is greater.
The idea of Jacques Dutronc as Van Gogh didn't sit well with me at
first. I didn't think they looked much alike and Jacques just seemed
too cool and French and rock star like to pull it off. It took a few
minutes to get used to, but I quickly became engrossed in the tale and
the acting and was no longer wary. This film focuses on Van Gogh's last
few months of life, while he went to Auvers to seek treatment from Dr.
Gachet for his headaches.
Always the recluse, the daughter of Dr. Gachet is drawn to him, falls in love and follows him about, although Van Gogh seems mostly indifferent to her attention and feelings. His mental state becomes worse and worse and in his case it makes him a short-tempered, angry, difficult person. He insults his brother, his brother's wife, his girlfriend, Dr. Gachet and about everyone he knows until he finally shoots himself. The film spends an inordinate amount of time on Vincent suffering in bed with a bullet in his gut, being downright cruel to those who attempt to help or console him. How many scenes of him laying angry and in pain in his soon to be death bed do we really need.
This movie is like an avocado and bacon and watercress salad that Tyler Florence created. First you take 3 avocados (which I have come to love since I went to Chile last March) cut them in half and remove the pit. Then fry up a couple of slices of bacon and crumble them over the avocado halves. Then strew some watercress artistically across the plate. Then drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I find the salad great when I'm eating bites of avocado and bacon, which I generally eat first. Then I have some watercress with a few bits of bacon leftover. This is bitter and not that pleasant, so it finishes of rather poorly for me. When I'm done I mostly remember the good bites from the beginning with the creamy avocados and the salty, delicious bacon. I should just leave the watercress out and it would be excellent. 6/10 http://blog.myspace.com/locoformovies
Perhaps if the movie had been called "Joe Smith" and if it were about
an ordinary average schlep who dies, I would consider it impressive.
There are many great films which deal with the tragic irony of a
tedious and banal death.
But in this case, the director takes an inherently powerful story and reduces it to the mundane. Van Gogh? Who was he? He certainly wasn't the guy they showed in this movie. I have to strongly agree with the other reviewer who said that the title of this movie kills it. It's not about Van Gogh; not even close.
So next I considered that perhaps the director purposely chose a famous subject and purposely wove a creative retelling of history, much like Forman's masterpiece AMADEUS. The funny thing is, this technique only works if you have something creative to depict. But if your intent is to beat history into dullness, there's nothing creative, impressive or even interesting about it.
I watched this movie because I was expecting to see an insightful peek into the final days of one of the world's most passionate and cryptic artists. Instead I found a boring showcase of some pretentious French director's visually masturbatory work. Film school nerds may be impressed, but not me. And I doubt any painters, historians or poets were impressed either. Chalk this one up as another esoteric little waste of film.
PLEASE skip this movie and go watch BALLADE O SOLDATE (1959) instead. Now there's a fantastic film depicting the final, realistic days of an anonymous young man. And it didn't step on any history books, either.
Many reviewers hail this as underrated!. I, most Happily disagree. Unfortunately any insight to the great painter is done in arbitrary exposition from supporting characters, while the main one stands around aloof. If Hollywood romanticized, any previous films of Van Gogh, it's only a natural inclination too heighten what we see in his paintings!. As an actor, I would be emphatic just to be in a scene where I'm told " You're van Gogh!-you stand here"!( I know this is a harsh assessment,but that's the way it plays,three quarters of the way!) What we are given here, is not an attempt of visual or narrative connection from the man to his works, rather, an exercise in screenplay. I didn't wish to agree with the naysayers of this film,so I had to rent and see for myself. This film could have had any other title, maybe.. that's the point, but whatever preparations no matter how extensive was not translated through this media. Watching this made me want to see 'El Postino' for the hundredth time. Now for the underrated loyalist, I recommend Bronson(2009),now this IS a film that is truly underrated!.
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