After the disastrous months spent with Gauguin in the yellow house in Arles, Vincent van Gogh, in desperate search for a cure from attacks that increasingly plague him, voluntarily enters an insane asylum.
This documentary, on the life of artist Vincent Van Gogh, is told through his letters to his brother Theo, from 1872 until his tragic death. We gain first hand insight into the man, his motivations, and his humanity.
The familiar tragic story of Vincent van Gogh is broadened by focusing as well on his brother Theodore, who helped support Vincent. The movie also provides a nice view of the locations which Vincent painted.
Reasonably good drama despite having a basic script and approach
It is the autumn of 1888 and artist Paul Gauguin has finally agreed to come to stay in the four rooms rented by Vincent Van Gogh in his yellow house in the countryside. The aim is to build an artists retreat together where they can create and express themselves freely. However as the pair become closer they also disagree over the nature of the artistic process, disagreements which gradually become more and more aggressive, damaging their relationship.
I will resist the urge to make a joke based on the presence of John Simm (is Van Gogh mad? In a coma? Or back in time?) but instead focus on the content of this film. The story will be familiar to many viewers even with a passing knowledge of art history if only because of the final, violent event of the time they spent together. The script expands on this well and creates characters that are interesting while still existing within the context of the story. Although it is basic this is enough to hold the interest as the characters are not too deep but not too simplistic in their actions. Durlacher's direction is good despite the fact that he is clearly working with a fairly limited budget.
The two male leads are more than up to the solid script. Simm enjoys himself away from Life on Mars and gives an impressively turbulent performance that spills out over the edges. He doesn't really get to the heart of his character but he lives up to the script well. I want to say that Lynch is not as good as Simm but I only felt this because he had a less engaging character. If anything the fact that Lynch does so well with the difficult and unattractive character given to Gauguin shows that he has done a better job. They work well together although the script does rather limit them in what they can do because it isn't ever really a subtle affair.
Overall then a solid film that delivers an interesting story with two good performances to the fore. It isn't as clever as I would have liked and it doesn't really delve much below the surface of events and characters but it is engaging enough to be worth a look once.
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