Willem Dafoe illuminates van Gogh’s brilliance in biopic

“What I see nobody else sees,” are the words at the heart of the new biopic

Less than a year after earning an Oscar nomination for The Florida Project, Willem Dafoe's latest starring role is as none other than legendary Dutch master Vincent van Gogh. In the new biopic At Eternity’s Gate, named after Van Gogh's painting that depicts an elderly man with his head in his hands, Dafoe explores the later years of painter's life, wherein the artist lived out his final days in and around an asylum, as he struggled through mental illness and self-doubt.

As the official synopsis describes it, the movie represents a cinematic “journey inside the world and mind of a person who, despite skepticism, ridicule and illness, created some of the world’s most beloved and stunning works of art.” Tracing the evolution of van Gogh’s techniques at the height of his artistic breakthrough, the creation of filmmaker Julian Schnabel touches on some of the key life events of the painter, like van Gogh cutting off his own ear and tapping into his personal spirituality as inspiration for his art. Evoking the sunflowers and night skies, so crucial to van Gogh’s later work, the film splashes blue and yellow filters across the imagery, creating an attitude of wistful dreaminess. 
At Eternity’s Gate already premiered at Venice, where it gained acclaim for its impressionistic storytelling based on the artist’s letters and Schnabel’s own interpretation of his memories. Moreover, critics are calling it another career-defining performance for Defoe.
The movie, in which Mads Mikkelsen, Emmanuelle Seigner, Amira Casar, Niels Arestrup, and Oscar Isaac co-star, is expected to premiere in selected theaters worldwide on 16 November.

 

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