At Eternity’s Gate
Drama | French with English subtitles | 110 minutes
Vincent van Gogh’s last years are spent in Arles, the sunny part of France. His brother, Theo, supports Vincent and also buys him much-needed oil paint and brushes. When Vincent’s behavior becomes a problem, Theo asks friend and fellow artist Paul Gaugin to visit and cheer up Vincent. Gauguin does visit but after feuding with Vincent he suddenly decides to leave; Vincent is crushed and cuts off his ear. He is sent to a mental hospital. When he’s to be released, Arles refuses to take him so a sympathetic supervising pastor sends Vincent to another village. While painting in a courtyard of a deserted estate, two teenagers playing Cowboys-and-Indians with real guns, accidentally shoot Vincent. Medical help arrives; Theo is summoned. It’s too late. By the time Theo arrives, Vincent is dead. The film, according to Schnabel, takes the position that Vincent van Gogh did not commit suicide.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 79%
- Metacritic Score: 76
- Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Willem Dafoe)
- Venice Film Festival: Winner, Best Actor (Willem Dafoe)
- National Society of Film Critics Awards: Nominated, Best Actor (Willem Dafoe)
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AT ETERNITY’S GATE is a fascinating fusion of a trio of artists: subject Vincent van Gogh, performer Willem Dafoe, and filmmaker Julian Schnabel. It’s an impressionistic film, concerned more with the atmosphere around genius than explaining it away.
In AT ETERNITY’S GATE, the director Julian Schnabel imagines a different Vincent. This Vincent–a magnificent Willem Dafoe–is not defined by that brand but by the art with which he at once communes with the world and transcends it. Schnabel is interested in this difficult, mercurial man and attentive to his hardships. Strikingly, though, his interest has a rare quality of tenderness to it. Schnabel has made not just an exquisite film but an argument for art.
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