At Eternity’s Gate
Vincent van Gogh chases a new kind of light.
A movie about an artist always risks making the subject’s ambitions appear pretentious, said Stephanie Zacharek in Time. Fortunately, Julian Schnabel’s “delightful, mournful” film about Vincent van Gogh’s final years wants above all to help us see the world the way the great painter saw it when he stepped out into the French countryside with his easel. The portrait, as impressionistic as it is, is “made whole by its star, Willem Dafoe, whose radiant intensity fills every corner of the film.” On more than one occasion, we simply watch van Gogh at work, and hearing nothing but the wind and his brushstrokes is “meditative, even mesmeric,” said Michael Nordine in IndieWire.com. But there’s humor here, too, including in the debates van Gogh has with Paul Gauguin (a magnetic Oscar Isaac). At Eternity’s Gate “doesn’t pretend to be definitive,” said Owen Gleiberman in Variety. “It’s a drama of moments, fragments,” presenting van Gogh as an addict of beauty who for a brief time fully satisfied his craving. It doesn’t hide the artist’s mental illness, but it avoids the cliché of tormented genius “by weaving a vision of van Gogh’s joy into the tapestry of his fabled unhappiness.” ■