“At Eternity’s Gate” Review


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For Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate is definitely a performance he will be remembered by. Dafoe is Vincent van Gogh, and he does an excellent job portraying the role. Even though Dafoe is 25 years older than the real-life Vincent Van Gogh, he still plays the role of a young artist well. He has the quietness, the patience, and the artistic trait. I felt that the movie was visually moving with oblique camera angles in a variety of moments that made me feel like I was part of the life of Vincent Van Gogh. For director Julian Schnabel, he did the writing for the film with Jean-Claude Carriere and Louise Kugelberg. While “At Eternity’s Gate” is Kugelberg’s first film to have a writing credit, Carriere has got multiple writing credits since the 1960s. Those written credits were mainly Foreign films. However, “At Eternity’s Gate” I will say is his most notable writing credit to have co-written with Schnabel.

The plot of the film takes place in Arles and Auvers-Sur-Oise, France. It is the time of a banishment. During this time, Vincent van Gogh builds his craft with his particular painting style. However, he may be purely artistic, but he begins to battle with various issues ranging from religion and mental health problems along with struggling to hold down a friendship with artist Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac). Another character that starts be concerned is the priest (Mads Mikkelsen). With all of these conflicts, this leads van Gogh to be extremely worried how he relates to eternity over his paintings. It is a breathtaking and visualizing depiction of what stories have told about van Gogh. The person in charge of the art direction, Loic Chavanon was the art department coordinator for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017). The artistic concepts Chavanon uses sets a dark tone where they feel the emotions of Dafoe’s performance. The cinemtographer (Benoit Delhomme) did the cinematography for James Marsh’s “The Theory of Everything” (2014). With “At Eternity’s Gate” he has the color faded quite well as he did with “The Theory Of Everything.” The colors faded to a point where the scenery looks like the actual time period.

At moments, the film lacked with some dialogue, I believe though that is because in van Gogh’s life he did not speak french very well and there are moments where van Gogh was taunted by french people, in those moments of the film, the lack of dialogue somewhat heightens the climatic moments. Also, the film solely cares about the visual emotions in the eyes of Dafoe’s performance.

“At Eternity’s Gate” is a moving film. I felt like it was the type of movie that I could get lost in for its running length of one hour and fifty-one minutes. The opening tends to be slow and stale, but the film builds up emotionally as the thirty minutes kicks in. Three and a half stars.

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