Dafoe – yay! Too many filler scenes – nay.
At Eternity’s Gate is the story of the final years of impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe), based upon the biography ‘Van Gogh: The Life’.
Willem Dafoe is Van Gogh personified. He really brings the troubled painter to life with his fantastic performance. The only problem is the considerable age gap (about 25 years difference), but it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing a better job in spite of this.
Another hit is the attention to detail, getting the locations and outfits to accurately mirror the paintings. It makes sense that the visuals would be on point, because director Julian Schnabel is a painter too. On the other hand, sometimes there is so much indulgment purely in visuals that it becomes boring. If the idea of watching Van Gogh trudging around a landscape through a half-blurry lens is your thing, be my guest. Sandwiched between the more interesting scenes with dialogue are a number of such scenes, which waters down the film as a whole.
Also noteworthy that in the closing credits it mentions a book of Van Gogh sketches being found in 2016, yet with a little research I discovered it has not been conclusively certified as authentic. So this film is probably not the most reliable source of facts.
As far as the rating goes, this is a low 3 – I have a low tolerance level for boredom but the acting and overall look make up for a lot.
At Eternity’s Gate premieres in Sweden on 29 March.