Friday 18 October 2019

At Eternity’s Gate review: 'Willem Dafoe ought to have won the Best Actor Oscar instead of Rami Malek'

5 stars

At Eternity's Gate
At Eternity's Gate
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

If any one person created the myth of the starving, misunderstood artist doomed to living obscurity, posthumous fame, it’s Vincent Van Gogh.

You all know the story: he moved south, went mad, rowed with Gauguin, cut off his ear, painted up a storm in an asylum before shooting himself - or being shot.

All of this has been amusingly rehashed in films like Lust for Life and Theo & Vincent, but Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate drains the spurious glamour from the painter’s life, leaving us with something much wilder, more pitiful.

It’s 1888, and Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) is at an artistic dead end when his friend Paul Gauguin suggests he swap the lowering skies of Paris for the sunny south.

He goes to Arles, where the sun-drenched colour sends him first into an artistic frenzy, then a rapid tailspin.

Schnabel, a painter himself, shows us how Van Gogh made his art, and so intensely saw the world, and Dafoe is brilliant as the unfortunate artist: he was nominated for an Oscar, and ought to have won instead of Rami Malek.

(12A, 111mins)

Also releasing this week:

Dumbo review: 'Humour, heart and visual panache but your heartstrings are not tugged as they might and should have been'


The Man Who Wanted to Fly review: 'Irresistible documentary following the fortunes of a County Cavan Icarus'

Irish Independent

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