During a self-imposed exile in Arles and Auvers-Sur-Oise, France, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh develops his unique, colorful style of painting. While grappling with religion, mental illness and a tumultuous friendship with French artist Paul Gauguin, van Gogh begins to focus on his relationship with eternity rather than the pain his art causes him in the present.
The way Theo van Gogh's name is pronounced in this movie is the accurate Dutch way to pronounce his name. See more »
@ approx :35 into the movie, van Gogh is lying in a hospital bed after being beaten up. The en d of a pillow at the right hand side of the image shows a 21st century soft goods tag. See more »
Vincent Van Gogh:
I just want to be one of them. I would like to sit down with them and have a drink and talk about anything. I'd like them to give me some tobacco, a glass of wine, or even just ask me, "How are you today?" And I would answer, and we would talk. And from time to time I'd make a sketch of one of them as a gift. They would accept it, maybe, and keep it somewhere, and a woman would smile at me and ask, "Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat? A piece of ham, some cheese, or ...
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There's a mid-credits scene, where a Paul Gauguin quote is narrated. See more »
Biopics don't always have great reputations, but to me despite many playing loose with the facts and quite a lot not exploring their subjects enough or being too conventional many have a lot to recommend on their own merits as films. Vincent van Gogh's paintings are a thing of beauty and van Gogh was a very fascinating man and one of history's most influential artists. Willem Dafoe has also been great, fantastic even, in other things. So there were plenty of reasons as to why 'At Eternity's Gate' had big potential to be great.
'At Eternity's Gate', when finally watching it, is a bit of a tricky one for me. Some may find it easier to rate and review, whether love or hate, but the film left me pondering over it for a long time. A big part of me really admired 'At Eternity's Gate' and found a big amount to like and even love about it. Part of me was also a little disappointed, felt that it could have been better and its shortcomings could have been easily avoided. That it was not your usual or conventional biopic was interesting in itself and was appreciated, makes it stand out.
Will start with the good. A lot of criticism has been directed towards the photography and music. Personally did not have anywhere near as big a problem. Although some of the editing is dizzying and a bit unfocused, the photography is striking and captures the beauty of art and nature beautifully. Also matching van Gogh's increasing and rapidly deteriating mental state ideally. The landscapes are the very meaning of picturesque. Didn't have an issue with the music score, subtlety was not an issue in placement at times but it did strike an emotional chord and matched the film's mournful tone.
Some of the writing is thoughtful and poignant 'At Eternity's Gate' is not an easy or happy watch narratively, but as van Gogh's life or at his later years were as long away from happy as one can get that was not a problem at all. Found the story to be generally very affecting and the latter parts especially moving and avoids being too speculative. The acting is near-uniformly great, while Rupert Friend, Mads Mikkelsen and Emmanuelle Seigner give very nuanced performances with their expressions and eyes speaking volumes and louder than their still strong line delivery the film belongs to Dafoe. Who is just captivating, and the intensity and pathos he brings to van Gogh is truly powerful in a tear-jerking way.
The one exception is Oscar Isaac, whose caricaturish scenery chewing fails utterly to be in keeping with the tone of the film, the smirking quite annoying. Can understand completely where people are coming from regarding the pace, am not somebody that thinks that if something is paced deliberately/slowly it's immediately bad but count me in as another person that found 'At Eternity's Gate' too slow and attention does wander in the more wordless scenes.
Part of the problem in this regard, a big problem, is that there are too many scenes that go on for too long for reasons not really obvious. The writing does tend to be too waffling and can be a little self-indulgent, with a missed opportunity to delve in deeper. Was not crazy about the editing at times too.
Overall, was very conflicted over what rating to give 'At Eternity's Gate' and had to think hard about what to write about in the review, but although for me its shortcomings were quite big the numerous good things were so fantastic it was difficult to be too hard on it. 6.5-7/10
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