The true story of troubled artist Vincent van Gogh, and the
time he spent in the villages of Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise.
At Eternity's Gate (2018)
Directed by Julian Schnabel
Written by Jean-Claude Carrière,
Julian Schnabel, Louis Kugelberg
Starring Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac,
Mads Mikkelsen, Emmanuelle Seigner, Matheiu Amalric
Oscar Nominations - Best Actor (Willem Dafoe)
Vincent van Gogh is a household name these days, but in his time, he was a pauper who never sold a single painting in his life. His contemporaries found his work sloppy and nobody respected him or his work. He was highly troubled, possibly schizophrenic, and likely suffered from severe depression. He had social anxiety and found it difficult to interact with people. Yet today, van Gogh is regarded as quite possibly the greatest painter who ever lived. At Eternity's Gate depicts the last years of his life, when his mental illness began to take over and he found himself committed to an asylum.
Willem Dafoe is in top form as Vincent van Gogh, delivering a humanizing and flawed performance of one of history's most complicated men. There are times when you sympathize with him, and there are times when you despise him. He isn't a hero, nor is he an idol. He's simply a man with his own problems who found solace in his work, and Dafoe plays this version of van Gogh to perfection. The supporting cast is stellar as well, with Oscar Isaac delivering a pompous yet somewhat likable performance as fellow artist Paul Gauguin, just to name a standout.
At Eternity's Gate is not for everybody. It's filmed using a number of first-person shots from Vincent's point of view, and there's a lot of overlapping dialogue to emphasize Vincent's mental state deteriorating. I thought the film was brilliant and I consider it among Willem Dafoe's most well-rounded and memorable performances.