Aesthetically impressive to the eye and fragmented by design, artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabels interior exploration of Vincent Van Gogh’s final years of his life is a artful, roving, and richly experimental film that avoids typical biopic trappings and the final result is a challenging, but a powerfully shattering film of a wounded and misunderstood soul
In At Eternity’s Gate, Schnabel examines the agony and little to no success Vincent Van Gogh went through in a masterful performance by Willem Dafoe in Paris during the 1880s. Van Gogh encounters avant-garde painter Paul Gauguin (Oscar Issac), who’s one of the few that support and believe in Van Goghs paintings, and he recommends that Van Gogh travel to the south of France to get more depth and color in his paintings.
Vincent ends up traveling to Aries, thanks to funding from his kind and supportive brother Theo (Rupert Friend), it’s there where Vincent is inspired by landscapes and nature and he begins panting luminous lanscapes and flowers.
There is an aspiring scene of Gauguin visiting Van Gaugh and getting his spirits up only to reveal to him he sold some paintings, and he must return back, distraught Vincent cuts off his own hear ear. He ends up in a mental hospital and Vincent ends up deteriorating.
Dafoe’s performance is deeply felt and tragically raw, he commits a lot of truth and agony in the performance. Schnabel avoids Van Goghs fits of lunancy and rages, but instead examines his heart break and disappointments.
The films camerawork and visual style is absolutely breathtaking, and very much in the vein of Terrence Malick. Schnabel directs a commanding and meticulous re-creation of a struggling artist, and it truly transports you to his lifestyle and artwork and what it was probably like. It adds great depth and dimension to the artwork and makes it more vivid and true.
At Eternity’s Gate joins a long list of already-existing movies about Van Gogh, and other biopics, but this one is one of the most unique and remarkable ones.