12th Dec2018

‘At Eternity’s Gate’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup, Anne Consigny, Amira Casar, Vincent Perez, Lolita Chammah | Written by Jean-Claude Carrière, Louise Kugelberg | Directed by Julian Schnabel


Famed but tormented artist Vincent van Gogh spends his final years in Arles, France, painting masterworks of the natural world that surrounds him.

Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate may just be the biggest surprise masterpiece of the year. In a compelling and spectacular piece of avant-garde filmmaking that is outrageously marvellous in every frame. Not having seen something shot this beautifully or aesthetically thoughtful in terms of emotionally engaging style since a partnership of director Terrence Malick and cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki. To simplify, Schnabel’s film is a stunning composition of visual art that both mends and breaks one’s heart in the same poetic breath.

The cinematography and artistic flair from cinematographer Benoît Delhomme is genius, extraordinarily imaginative and dynamic. The fluidity and raw energy created in such an audacious and abstract manner, only add to the heighten insanity and otherworldly approach of a troubled, yet flourishing artist on the very verge of a glib juxtaposition of financial and critical success with a self-sabotaging crisis of mental fatigue resulting in mooted evolving failure. It this emotional element that drives the film forward aside from its beautifully effective aesthetic. The thematic threads of such a character that’s pure and ever so delicate in a world that doesn’t allow him to fit in are devastatingly abrasive and powerful. Thus creating a deeply poignant and melancholy virtue that Schnabel’s film revels in exploring.

Willem Dafoe evokes the same sense of committed grandiose that he personified in Martin Scorsese’s controversial, yet masterful 1988 work as Christ in The Last Temptation of Christ. An astonishingly engaging and rugged baleful performance that is layered with methodical and articulate energy. Evident in a sensitive and sincere physical presence and the intense output of a deeply insightful psychological arrangement that is effulgent and adamant in its approach of honesty.

At Eternity’s Gate is on limited release in North America now.


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