At Eternity's Gate

UK/USA/FRANCE, 2018. dir. Julian Scnabel, 110 mins.

Distributor: Elevation Pictures

Dates and Venues Opens November 2018 Various Select Cinemas

Reviewer Ed Farolan

There have been a lot of films and documentaries about Vincent Van Gogh, and even songs ("Starry, Starry Night"). Each one interprets his life differently. In this case, Schnabel focuses on the paintings and takes a different biopic approach. In fact, in his interpretation, Van Gogh cut his ear because his friend Gaugin left him to go back to Paris, instead of the common belief that he cut it for a prostitute. Schnabel also interprets his death not as a suicide but a homicide by a group of boys.

From the cinematographic angle, Schnabel uses hand-held cameras to make the film appear like a reality show. I didn't like it because it was very dizzying. From an acting point of view, though, I was impressed by Willem Defoe. He's probably in his 60s but played the part of a man in his 30s quite well. From the self-portraits of Van Gogh, we could see that he aged prematurely, and so I suppose Defore fit the role quite well.

With regard to the interpretation of the film, Schnabel, togther with two other writers, Louise Kugelberg and Jean-Claude Carrière, said that the film was "about painting and a painter and their relationship to infinity. It is told by a painter. It contains what I felt were essential moments in his life; this is not the official history – it’s my version. One that I hope could make you closer to him." The title of the film was taken from the title of one of Van Gogh's paintings.

© 2018 Ed Farolan