Day Thirty: At Eternity’s Gate (MotM 2019)

eternity's gate cover

I will write this piece faster than Vincent Van Gogh painted masterpieces.

It’s interesting. I find Van Gogh to be a near-infinite well of intrigue simply by the scope of the lonely tragedy his entire life is made out to be. Willem Dafoe brings out his misery and quiet ambition superbly, and has become my favorite incarnation of Van Gogh’s cinematic presence thus far.

The film itself could’ve been better, however, A lot of the presentation was predicated on bringing to the viewer the same type of chaotic expression that Van Gogh had with his person and, to an extent, his paintings. I don’t think it works that well here, perhaps because it pushed too far into the vivid unknown that it almost became obnoxious. Continuous camera-shaking, blurry shots, abrupt tonal shifts, saturation changes; it felt a little much. Kudos to director Julian Schnabel for doing something interesting with his film, but it didn’t occur as seemlessly as it could have.

Apart from Dafoe, the acting was also fairly uneven. Oscar Isaac was good, and I had no complaints about any other recurring character. My issues were with these random one-off persons that play some part in the development of Van Gogh’s madness, whose acting prowess likely wouldn’t inspire the real Van Gogh’s furious desire. Certain scenes were vapid enough with the obvious intentions of the dialogue; the performers didn’t help the case.

It’s a slow-burner, one that teeters somewhat between immersive and overbearing. I wouldn’t recommend this to those outside the artistic spectrum, as (ironically discussed within the film) many would find this to be an unapproachable shift from normalcy. In a sort of condescending way to put it, if you loved Bohemian Rhapsody, you won’t find much from this. Watch for Willem Dafoe, and to understand a little more about the life and mind of a famously tragic figure in art history.

Final Score: 6/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

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