At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

at eternitys gate poster 2018 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting : 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Willem Dafoe

Story and concepts could be expanded

Movie Info

Movie Name:  At Eternity’s Gate

Studio:  CBS Films

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  September 3, 2018 (Venice Film Festival)/November 16, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

at eternitys gate vincent van gogh theo brother rupert friend willem dafoe

A brother’s love

Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) has isolated himself in the small French town of Arles.  Facing mental illness and a madness to paint what he sees, van Gogh struggles to keep sane as his work is ignored and criticized by his peers.  His brother Theo van Gogh (Rupert Friend) and Paul Gaugin (Oscar Isaac) find Vincent is getting more and more ill…and madness fuels his art.

Directed by Julian Schnabel (who contributed to the screenplay with Jean-Claude Carrière and Louise Kugelberg), At Eternity’s Gate is a biopic of Vincent van Gogh and his last years.  The film was released to critical acclaim and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (Dafoe).

Loving Vincent was an interesting look at Vincent van Gogh by bringing his paintings to life.  Here, you have a similar period of van Gogh’s life being presented and at points an attempt to create van Gogh’s view of the world.  While the story is average, the film looks great and features a great performance by Dafoe.

at eternitys gate vincent van gogh ear willem dafoe

I just slipped shaving…honestly

The movie is at its best when it start to question the “what is art” idea.  This is a concept that has existed for ages and many revolutionaries (like van Gogh) weren’t appreciated when they bucked the system.  The descent into madness in the film also does take on some great nuances with van Gogh being unable to separate his vision from reality.

Dafoe is great.  He plays the madness as manic and sometimes repressed.  It is this fit-like performance that Dafoe who does a great job trying to explain madness and vision (and the difference between the two) to others.  I liked Rupert Friend as his brother who is trying to help by enabling his art, and Oscar Isaac plays a nice Gaugin.  The sequence between Mads Mikkelsen and Dafoe at the mental hospital was one of the stronger scenes of the film.

at eternitys gate asylum vincent van gogh willem dafoe

Art drives madness…madness drives art

The movie has some great scenery, but often the movie intentionally tries to give the appearance of van Gogh’s art.  High yellow colors and vision-like sunny days really highlight his style and his sickness.  There are sequences that are almost dream-like and you aren’t always sure what is reality.

At Eternity’s Gate is probably a movie that will mostly interest fans of van Gogh or fan of Defoe.  It isn’t really story driven and the idea of art, infamy, and fame…and what it all means are ideas that are touched upon, but could easily have been fleshed out even more.  Pair this with Loving Vincent and have a van Gogh weekend.

Related Links:

The 91st Academy Award Nominations

Loving Vincent (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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