Van Gogh Reviews
Van gogh goes to the country and in order to have a change of air , the movie slowly reveals his character and his mental disposition throughout the first half an hour with a certain tedious pace but it effective nonetheless. Dutronc plays the artist as a burned out but ever searching person - someone who need bouts of inspiration and doesn't how to get it and when he'll get it .
The film never focuses anything on his artistic merits, infact all the pieces are given a backseat and there are no lengthy discussion on the aesthetics on painting except for a few sequences which are never given major importance. The film instead focuses on his relationship with the people who he knew for the last few days of his life- Dr. Gachet, his daughter, the mistresses, his brother Theo and his wife, and a lot of time on Gachet's daughter whose romantic involvement with him is a main centre story.
Van gogh is tormented, although his proficiency and his creative abilities are never diminished, the appreciation that his art should receive is never conveyed by anyone. Everyone around him is either ambivalent or critical. This leads him into depression and contemplation of suicide, but every single time his art becomes the only thing that saves him.
The film takes a lot of time off in showing the bohemian aspects of an artists career - the waltzes, the alcohol and cigarettes, the women and the merry mood that he enjoys. The love and romance he enjoys, the jealousy of other artists, in fact the film itself portrays van gogh as a human being whose artistic talent and lifestyle all becomes to much for him to take. His repressed emotions takes over him and goes on furious bursts of anger against his brother and the people he cares about and sometimes he's apathetic.
He descends into places where he cannot return and descends into hopelessness, thought this is not conspicuously portrayed in screen. The final moments of thie film about the life an artists is a bleak one where Van gogh accepts his fate, and insists that he dies. This is the story of an artist whose profession drove him to tortured despair in spite of his greatness, the final moments are just bleak but very natural, with life progressing on without his presence but where he is never forgotten.
Don't let this film's fairly broad title fool you, as this film chronicles, not the full life and times of the late, great Vincent van Go, but the painter's notorious last 67 days, during which an enging story is found, though, in this film, not quite as fleshed out as it probably should be, for although we're all hopefully aware of Vincent van Gogh, and although I'm not asking that this film crowbar more material into its already overlong two-and-a-half-hour runtime to give more flesh-out to our characters, the film feels underdeveloped. Sure, eventual exposition does a decent job of getting you used to the happenings and humans who drive this drama, while Maurice Pialat's realist atmosphere further bonds you with the film's humanity, but more immediate flesh-out stands to be more abundant, because as things stand, development shortcomings in this film do damage to engagement value, which further suffers at the hands of the very realist approach that helps in compensating for exposition issues. There's only so much dramatic kick to this dramatization of a dramatic period (Drama, drama, drama and more drama), as Pialat wishes to not water down subjet matter of this type with histrionics and articifial emotional resonance, and more often than not this dramatic formula works, but it's not without its problems, including an atmosphere that isn't as dry as I feared, - thanks to reasonably spirited writing and acting keeping entertainment value up, at least to a certain extent - but not exactly frantic, being just restrained enough to, after a while, lose you, at least momentarily. If this film's atmospheric slow spells do nothing else, they call more to attention the film's biggest issue: padding, because at 158 minutes of only one segment out of a story that is undoubtedly rich with dramatic potential, this film outstays its welcome a bit, reinforcing realism with the occasional needless moment of nothingness, if not more than a few moments in which material gets to be a bit too fatty around the edges, typically of a somewhat familiar nature. It's not monotonous, but this film's excessive formula gets to be repetitious, leaving the film to wander along, seemingly in circles, with enough intrigue to keep you compelled through and through, though not with enough dynamic kick to keep you really locked in. This film is a very human one, and I commend it for having such humanity, and spicing it all up with an active attention to genuineness over melodrama, but much too often, this film's realist meandering goes a bit too far, slowing down the momentum of the film, both in atmospheric pacing and plot structure, but still not taking as much time as it probably should to really flesh things out, and that does a number on the final product. Of course, when it's all said and done, the film's issues, while undeniable, aren't quite as considerable as they could have been, so it's not like you should go into this film expecting the usual underwhelming misfire you can find on a list of Cannes Film Festival highlights, but rather, a genuinely rewarding film, with effectiveness than can be found even within the smallest of aspects.
Actively resistent against overly cinematic sensibilities, this film very rarely plays up musiciality, which, upon actually coming up, outside of a nice little jingle at the credits, is found, not in post-production, but in first-party audio, something that is, as you can imagine, rarely accompanied by the piano and occasional band that drive what musical aspects there are in this film, so it's not like this film is driven by its soundtrack, but when music is, in fact, played up, it makes its limited time with us count by livening up atmosphere, though not so much so that Pialat contradicts his noable realist intentions. These musical moments, as well as all too limited occasions in which cinematographers Gilles Henry and Emmanuel Machuel find an attractive visual to play up, are rather rarely explored in this opus whose artistic value is most driven by storytelling artistry, but they are here, punching up the engagement value behind a story that is strong enough to carry itself on its own, as reflected by the fact that it, well, mostly has to carry itself on its own. There's not a whole lot of build-up to this particularly intriguing final chapter to an intriguing life, yet that doesn't stop the chapter in question for running a touch too long, but no matter how underdeveloped or overlong this film's story is, it is intriguing on paper, alone, with plenty of dramatic potential that isn't too extensively played up, but played up just enough within Maurice Pialat's clever script for you to gain an adequate understanding of this film's characterization and progression. Pialat's writing isn't outstanding, but it is commendable in its wit and realism, which helps in bringing the intriguing behind this film's worthy subject matter to life, and is itself brought to life by inspiration with Pialat's direction, whose restraint all too often does damage to pacing and atmospheric bite, but all but works wonders when heavier material falls into play and is not overplayed, but rather presented with enough inimtate genuineness for you to bond with the film's happenings and dramatic aspects, no matter how realistically restrained they are. No, people, the film won't exactly be jamming on your heartstrings, as this is not that kind of film that would play up cinematic dramatic touches, going driven by a very realist genuineness that could have been executed all wrong and left you utterly distanced from the final product, but is ultimately backed by enough inspiration for you to be sold on this world. What further sells you on the humanity behind this very human drama is, of course, the acting, which is strong in most everyone, but arguably at its strongest within leading man Jacques Dutronc, who, even then, isn't given a whole lot to work with, thanks to this film's being relatively held back in its portrayal of Vincent van Gogh's infamous mental and emotional health issues, but convinces consistently as the legendary artist, and when material is, in fact, called in, Dutronc plays with effective emotional range to further convince you of the layers and depths behind this brilliant and unstable soul. The film isn't thoroughly enthralling, nor is it even as powerful as it probably would have been if it was tighter, more fleshed out and - dare I say it? - more celebratory of dramatic aspects, rather than entirely realist, but where this effort could have fallen flat as underwhelming and too carried away with its uniqueness, like so many other meditative dramas you find at Cannes, inspiration behind restrained artistry proves to be compelling enough to make this film a reward one.
When the final stroke comes, you're left with a portrait of Vincent van Gogh that stands to take more time with immediate development, and less time meditating on excess material that is made all the worse by a somewhat dryly slow atmospheric pacing, and sparks the repetition that could have driven the final product into underwhelmingness, but is ultimately battled back enough to keep you compelled, because whether it be spawned from such ever so rare atmospheric compliments as lovely music, or spawned from inspired writing, direction and writing that bring an intriguingly worthy story to life, there is enough kick to engagement value to make Maurice Pialat's "Van Gogh" a surprisingly consistently engaging realist drama that may have its natural shortcomings, but ultimately stands as worth watching.
3/5 - Good
This is a film that can be called fairly grand cinema. All of it has been beautifully photographed catching the bright sun light of France.
Most of the scenes have been thought as a paintings of the same period, every single frame is a piece of art: the river scenes remind you of Monet, the brothels of Toulouse-Lautrec, the everyday routines of Degas, the agricultural moments of Millet and the cafe scenes of Renoir. In this sense the film is global, it is about Van Goght's life and about late XIX century painting. So, if you love art, you are going to love this movie. If you like action you might get disappointed. It is a french film after all, so expect lots of talking and eating, and in this case lots of dancing and singing as well.
The movie is brilliantly directed and acted, besides the costumes and the atmosphere of the homes, the household goods, the furniture are simply fantastic, the whole of it has been thoroghly researched and feels real and truthful.
A word of warning, if you like Van Gogh you might want to stay clear of this picture. Towards the end you might reach the conclusion that he was not the kindest person ever, he was a drunk, a craddle snatcher, a rake, a rude person and, in short, a bit of an a*****e. This adjective is also extendable to the other male characters, including Theo and dr. Gatchet. Females get partially excused because they mostly suffer the consequences of the mistakes of the men. In that sense the movie depicts a very grim picture of family life at the time.
To me, the weak part of the movie was the information gaps, V. Gogh's illness goes practically unnoticed and it does not explain why he kills himself, the suicide scene is not shown and some characters are introduced whitout explanation of who they are like Katye and her male friend. But, on the whole, this is a very accomplished piece of cinema and a gem for art lovers.
"I've worked harder and got better but nothing I've worked on is important..." The man said he doesn't paint water because it is so fluid and hard to capture the reflection...
The story only covers the last few months before his death, a period of great activity, although I missed my favourite Starry Nights :)
Slower than pedestrian pace.
I want my two and a half hours back!