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At Eternity’s Gate

The painterly film about Vincent Van Gogh’s waning years is currently in theaters.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Metacritic score: 78

Julian Schnabel is both a painter and a celebrated filmmaker, with four Oscar nominations under his belt for his 2007 film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. He’s clearly attracted to stories about people who overcome the odds — often while facing some physical or mental challenge — to create art that endures far beyond their time.

Schnabel’s latest film, At Eternity’s Gate, is about Vincent Van Gogh, played by Willem Dafoe in a head-turning performance. Schnabel crafts a portrait of the artist that’s more broad, impressionist strokes than straightforward biopic. The film depicts Van Gogh’s waning years in southern France, showing his descent into mental turmoil and constant rebuffing by the world around him. It suggests that he was more of an outsider artist than we’re accustomed to thinking, which ultimately makes the film less of a strict historical rendering and more of a meditation on the nature of artistic calling.

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