6/10 The story of Vincent van Gogh is one I am not all that familiar with. I of course can recognize his paintings but knew very little of the man behind the famous works of art. So with my desire to know more paired with Willem Dafoe’s Oscar nomination for Best Actor for this role, I decided to check out “At Eternity’s Gate”, to mixed results. One on ear…uh…hand, Dafoe does give a breath taking performance as he becomes van Gogh. The score is also in the top five best of the year and was another one robbed of a nomination from the Academy. The production and costume design expertly transport you back to France in the late 1800s. The supporting cast made up of Oscar Isaac, Rupert Friend and Mads Mikkelsen also bring their A game and fill out the cast nicely. The movie also was educational in the fact that it did teach me a great deal about van Gogh. I was unaware of how mentally unstable he was, how he worried about his mental health but often neglected his physical health with no bathing, not eating properly and drinking heavily. His memory lapses and delusions put him temporarily in an asylum and other life events like his death or his relationship with his brother were all facts I knew nothing of. It is really fascinating to see what a tortured soul van Gogh was and how his art was his ultimate expression of who he was and how without painting, he would not be able to go on living. Despite what the movie does well, there are still several glaring issues. A lot of the directorial choices I feel harm the movie and the cinematography I found to be absolutely awful. I get that the cinematography was trying to be artistic but all the shaky cam and odd camera movements served more as a distraction vs trying to convey what van Gogh was going through. The poor cinematography really distracted me from the story and its characters. With the directorial choices, there were some very hard cuts where the score would be going strong and then a hard cut to silence that was jarring and ill placed. Several of these type of moments plague the movie and don’t serve it in any way. There are also several scenes of overlapping dialogue with current dialogue mixed with dialogue that just happened one minute ago which I felt didn’t work at all. The movie also starts slow and has some pacing issues. There are a lot of moments of van Gogh just walking or doing more mundane actions that could have been better edited to cut down on the run time and make the first half of the movie less boring. Despite having made the excellent “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, director Julian Schnabel’s poor directorial, editing and cinematography choices really hold back what is otherwise a very well-acted and scored movie. If you aren’t a huge fan of painting or Vincent van Gogh, you can probably skip this and just read his Wikipedia page but if you don’t mind slower character studies with some problems about a fascinating individual, feel free to check this out.
#LendMeYourEars / #HaveAGoghAtIt / #NotForThePaintOfHeart / #BrushItOff / #DaFriendOrDaFoe / #InsideVan