At Eternity's Gate Reviews
"Now I just think about my relationship to eternity."
It's easy to appreciate what Schnabel was going for in At Eternity's Gate, his introspective portrait of Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe), but I just had a more enlightening and emotionally affecting discussion about mortality with my four-year-old. Observes, but adds little to the conversation.
Sixty-two years ago (1956) there was a 'Hollywood' version called "Lust For Life" starring Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The movie was based on a story by Irving Stone and written by Norman Corwin and this movie is written by Jean Claude Carrierre, Louise Kugelberg and Julian Schnabel, the latter also directing with it being his version, based on fact, letters, speculation and fiction.
The major plus of both films is showing the authentic paintings of Vincent van Gogh and, to a certain degree, his road to insanity. Did van Gogh kill himself by shooting himself in the stomach as Stone says or did 2 kids shoot and kill him?
The scenes between Douglas and Quinn are electric while the scenes in "At Eternity's Gate" between Rupert Friend, as Theo, Vincent's brother, especially one in a hospital, are moving and those between Oscar Isaac, as Gauguin, showing the respect he had for van Gogh, enlightening. Vladimir Consigny as a young doctor shows compassion for the man who sits before him after cutting his ear off while Mads Mikkelsen as a priest who is no match for van Gogh's interpretation of the bible. The women's roles are secondary and neither add or take away from the film.
William Dafoe, as van Gogh, in his 60s, playing the latter in his 30s, shows more in his face of the pain of life that the artist probably did.
Sadly the performances of Dafoe and Friend, with the paintings of van Gogh, are not enough to make the picture worthwhile while the offbeat piano tinkering of music by Tatiana Lisovskaya, the endless walking scenes, the handheld camera shots and the lack of drama make this more of a 'skip it' than a 'must see'.
Here are some of the many reasons this movie is complete trash:
- Way too much walking around pointlessly for filler.
- Very little character development.
- Whoever made this movie has no idea what being insane or losing sanity is.
- Willem Dafoes character as Van Gogh experienced zero regret, pain, anguish, or really any emotion concerning the lack of his ear, which is entirely unrealistic. A person doesn't lose a body part and then not acknowledge that even once in a some form of terror.
- They didn't even get the facts right about the reason he cut his ear off. It had more to do with his brother getting married that Paul leaving.
- Mad Mikkelson was only in the film for 5 minutes. So under utilized.
- The out of focus over artsy shots they tried throughout the whole film just made it feel like they were trying way to hard to make visual art and to be edgy.
- Willem Dafoe is a great actor and looks so much like Van Gogh however this is one of the worst scripts I've ever seen. How do you ruin a film with such great actors?
- I wanted this to be over for the last hour, I fought the urge many times to get up and leave.
- The ambiguity surrounding his brothers potentially incestuous relationship and then only addressed in that one scene and the woman he got physical with, not providijg any details about point a to point b. Left that to be interpreted as rape.
- All the dialogue between characters was painfully trite.
- No purpose to anything, a two hour chaotic mess, pointless ambiguity that went nowhere for no reason and dishonored the name Van Gogh.
- I genuinely do not know how they managed to fuck this up so bad.