Van Gogh Review

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Biopic of Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most important of the impressionist painters.


Closer in tone to Robert Altman's Vincent & Theo (1990) than Vincente Minnelli's Lust For Life (1956), this is less a biopic of a great artist than a discreet study of a distracted soul losing his reason to live.

Maurice Pialat largely avoids the passion for painting that illuminated Paul Cox's Vincent (1987), but Jacques Dutronc's portrayal still captures the volatile unpredictability that provoked Van Gogh's unique style and led him to brothels, asylums and the supposed calm of Auvers-sur-Oise, where he spent the last weeks before his suicide.

Pialat's leisurely accumulation of authentic detail and sketch-like approach to attendant characters has alienated some, as have the tableaux reminiscent of Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, but his meticulous dedication to the man and not the tormented genius gives this melancholic memoir the simple power and truth that remains evident in Vincent's art.