Young Critic Cameron Rolland shares his thoughts on the beautifully shot and bold artistic statement which is At Eternity's Gate
At Eternity’s Gate is the story of the world-famous artist Vincent Van Gogh, played brilliantly by Willem Dafoe, and the slow deterioration of his mental health, that eventually lead to his death at the age of 37. It also starts a fantastic supporting role of Oscar Isaac as Paul Gauguin.
The film for starters is beautifully and absurdly shot by Director Julian Schnabel and Cinematographer Benoît Delhomme have shot the film almost entirely in handheld, which gives it this frantic and messy feeling and makes you feel like you’re almost inside Van Gogh’s frantic and broken mind. In places they take the bold choice of blurring and fracturing half of the scenes, giving the look that you're seeing the whole film through a cloudy window. This to some audiences may come off as distracting or annoying but I think the fact that the Director and Cinematographer made this very conscious and bold choice to almost make the film uncomfortable to watch but yet it adds another layer to the feeling of being inside this troubled man’s head and seeing his different and warped view of the world.
The narrative in parts can also feel like it is dragging a bit as it doesn’t seem to have a set narrative arch, but rather shows the audience snapshots and windows into his life. I would’ve liked more of a detailed section focused on the time he spent in Auvers-sur-Oise, where he later died, as this part of his life is particularly fascinating due the mystery surrounding his death.
All in all, At Eternity’s Gate is a bold and artist statement that reflects the life of the beloved and yet emotionally flawed person that Van Gogh was. It is a must see for all art and film enthusiasts.
By Cameron Rolland