21 November 2018 | PotassiumMan
Van Gogh through the eyes of Julian Schnabel
Vincent Van Gogh's last days in the south of France are depicted in this heartfelt drama by Julian Schnabel. Willem Dafoe gives a powerful performance as the destitute, troubled painter who was not understood by those in his own time. As Van Gogh seeks to express his extraordinary eye for nature and portraits, those around him are either put off, wary or sometimes intrigued. His brother is his only real comfort.
A deliberately paced film with a mournful soundtrack, this will leave you in a contemplative state. It does not tell you everything about Van Gogh or when his self-isolation began but it does seek to offer insight into his profoundly troubled mental state. His demons are quite evident throughout the film- everything from his intolerant response to the curiosity of schoolchildren to his difficulty explaining his world to whatever doctor is examining him, Van Gogh is exemplified in Dafoe's anguished face. Schnabel, himself a painter, brings his own perspective in piecing this film together, especially in showing how Van Gogh paints and goes about his craft.
The film is not without drawbacks. Oscar Isaac is miscast as Paul Gauguin, the French painter whom Van Gogh couldn't bear losing company with. And Mads Mikkelsen gets minimal screen time in a very thoughtful performance as an inquisitive priest who recognizes Van Gogh's uniqueness. But this film is Schnabel's interpretation of Van Gogh and Dafoe's exemplary portrayal of him and in that regard it works quite well. Recommended.