4 May 2019.
AT ETERNITY’S GATE ***1/2 (vo English and French)
A contemporary artist’s take on the iconic master of the late 19th century, this film by Julian Schnabel is a difficult but effective portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh’s last tragic years.
It takes a painter like Schnabel to fully understand the artist’s vision, and one feels that throughout this sometimes shaky-camera but vibrant and deeply-felt view of Vincent’s loneliness and bewilderment. He shows how Van Gogh was indeed lost, yet had a strong and stubborn belief in his own talent. With an outstanding Willem Dafoe as Vincent and a fine Oscar Isaac as Gauguin, it is moving, troubling and beautiful, as were his innovative works.
Celebrity NewYork artist Schnabel (who loves to hang out in pyjamas and rumpled dressing gowns) has turned into a brilliant director with such films as “Basquiat”, “Before Night Falls” and “The Butterfly and the Diving Bell”, revealing even wider talents in the cinematic arts. In this somewhat revised depiction of Van Gogh, he has put an array of well-known actors such as Mads Mikkelsen, Emmanuelle Seigner, Vincent Perez, Amira Cazar, Mathieu Amalric and Niels Arestrup into scattered roles as though invited into his own home. A rich touch in this sombre homage to an unforgettable artist.
(Showing at the Bio in Carouge)
NOUS FINIRONS ENSEMBLE *** (vo French)
This is the continuation of Guillaume Canet’s excellent “Les petits mouchoirs” (2010), about a band of friends who went off on a summer holiday as planned despite their best buddy’s (Jean Dujardin) grave motorcycle accident. Their guilt and excuses created a tightly knit, emotional film.
The evolving friendships of the charming, feisty group created by Canet is a genre the French do so well (remember the superb films of Claude Sautet?). His flock includes players such as his wife and muse Marion Cotillard, the always excellent and often moody François Cluzet, the versatile Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Laffite and a whole slew of other talents that make this feel like a French “The Big Chill”.
Fine actor (though not playing in this film) and director Canet generates edgy situations and revives old quarrels when the group comes together again, but the fun and warm camaraderie will leave you with a smile despite some sadness. Alors, vive la France!
I can’t give a complete review of this film as I walked out after a banal yet terribly violent start and outrageously filthy language from young kids. It is an insult to the ears, and I refuse to accept this as nostalgia ‘entertainment’, especially when directed at a youthful audience. Everyone, including critics, seems to have become immune to such brutality and vulgarity. I am not, and I will resist it.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.