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4.3 out of 5 stars12
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 21 October 2013
Maurice Pialat did not always get the acclaim of being among the greatest of directors while he was alive. Now with Eureka having released pretty much all his features on DVD (and this- van Gogh - on Blu Ray)and viewing the films one after another, it seems to me there is no question about his greatness. Even in his debut feature L' Enfance-nue his talent is evident. (The one feature Eureka have not got hold of is Loulou- which Artificial Eye have released and is well worth seeing too).

This, his 158 min long tribute to Van Gogh is among his very best. Once you get used to lanky Jacques Dutronc playing him in the first couple of minutes (Van Gogh painted so many self portraits and we all know what he should look like) you can settle into this langurous take on the last two months of Van Gogh's life, from the time of his release from the mental institution, to his death from complications form a suicide attempt. Although it may bother many that Pialat does not spend much time to show Van Gogh furiously painting, I think that was the exact approach to take. After all when this film was made, in 1991, 100 years after Van Gogh's death, we the audience dont need reminding what a genius he was! What interests us was what was his day to day life like, and this is where the film scores. Pailat will take his time not just with Van Gogh but with others around him- his brother Theo and wife. or Dr Gachet and his daughter Marguriette (with whom he has an affair), the women from Paris brothels etc. There are scence and set pieces here as beautiful and fluid as anything by Jean Renoir ( but in colour and bathed in glorious summer light!)The Blu Ray postiviely glows!

It is a film to own and revist if Van Gogh's paintings mean anything to you. There are good supplements to the Blu Ray including many interviews, a superb booklet, and a B&W short made by Pialat on Van Gogh in the early 60's. It's only about 10 mins long but mentions one very interesting fact- that in those last two months at Auveus sur Oise, the period which this film depicts- he completed 70 paintings and 33 drawings! The world can be grateful, given his early death age 37, that this amount of work got done.
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For me Pialat's low key treatment of Van Gogh's last few weeks is a remarkable film - beautifully shot with tremendous acting supported by an intelligent screenplay. Dutronc produces a Van Gogh tortured by the spectre of mental ill health, interspersed with the everyday activities of a quiet rural village, a compassionate patron and his frivolous daughter, including an outing with Theo at a musical Parisian brothel! The great artist is seen at work but there is no sense of the isolated, melodramatic genius depicted in other films. On the contrary Van Gogh appears quite normal, conveying generous warmth to those around him, frolicking by the riverside and interested in the lives of others. When the end finally arrives it is treated with sublime sensitivity and, to some extent, a certain inevitability.
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on 3 November 2003
A cold, chilling, interpretation of Vincent's last days. Actor Jacques Dutronc picked up the 1992 Cesar Award for his performance as Vincent as his demise to madness finally causes him to commit suicide. Dutronc play Vincent as removed and seemigly not always 'quite with it.' His performance is brooding and sometimes confusing which makes you want and need to see this film again and again, discovering something new about Vincent upon each viewing.
'Towering...powerful...masterly...this is a film to savour' Said The Times and they were right!
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on 22 March 2015
Again, perhaps not for with so many ''docu-dramas'' the interpretation of this production MAY be educational -or entertaining - or MAY clash with ones historical perception/pre-conceptions........

Many may feel it more 'realistic' than the Kirk Douglas/Holywood treatment 'Lust for Life'.....but that ,too is perception.
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on 2 July 2015
Beautifully crafted film from start to finish and impressively transferred to bluray, a must see from a true master of cinema.
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on 31 January 2015
I borrowed this item from a local library and it turned out to be a little disappointing. Not what I was expecting. I cannot remember too many specifics of names and places, etc concerning the film in-depth and cannot go into details but my review is'nt glowing over its achievment. Well acted and good period 'sets' and deserving of the awards given or nominated for, but, if anyone was expecting a portrayal of a tortured artist, fractious, uneasy relationships with bemused and often hostile neighbours, a non-conformist man of passions raging against a world that dose'nt accept nor understand him - this film is NOT for you. This is a luke-warm only portrayal of Van Gogh's last few months before his suicide and the style of filming of this biopic is of a 'down-to-earth' kind; reasonable and easy for the general viewer to relate to. This 2 hour long flick has Van Gogh surrounded with frivolity and spirited freinds, in the bosom of ordinary family life, of all the usual good times and bad that comes with it, occassional conflicting interests of the everyday, chummy relationships with fellows at his last home town and intimacies with women who understand and comfort him just when he needs it most upon his release from care. A man at the hub of everyday life, 'artistic' and lay, in late 19th century France, only occassionally seen at his easel. Not at all a man at odds with people and life around him ! I was within 1/2 hour of the film opening already beginning to see this bloke not as the "tormented genius" persona that has grown up over the 100 years but just as a really very ordinary everyday chap who - happens to paint, has a mental breakdown (and this is rationalised enough, hardly even visible really) and at some point in his life and has to come to terms with this. This about makes up most of what goes on throughout and there are surprisingly few insights into Van Gogh, the artist, his works, his times alone when he created some (depending on ones views) of his memorable pieces.
Possibly contemporary art history and 'Edwardian' idealisations of passionate artists have combined to create unrealistic 'hero' views of Van Gogh, among others, handed down to us, and the producers and advisors of this film are simply attempting to sober (or maybe that should be sombre) some part of this 'myth', but, I don't know.
I think I prefer the unfashionable and outmoded views that grew out of (or maybe went into) making of films like "A passion for Life" and sentimentally based songs like 'Vincent', et al. This is the Van Gogh whose burning lust for life now makes his paintings sell for obscene amounts of cash; He, who is more well know for events in his life than most living contemporaries. Watch the film but it wont have you setting up your easels and brushes after seeing it and painting heated landscapes !
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on 2 January 2015
This terrific film looks at the last few weeks of Van Gogh's life. Van Gogh is played brilliantly by Jacques Dutronc, the French singer and actor. The film is sad, because if you know anything about Van Gogh's life you know how it will end, but it's also exhilarating, for two reasons: 1) it conveys the mastery of this painter who devoted his life to his art and 2) filmmaking this good is always exhilarating to watch. It's a major accomplishment by director Maurice Pialat and his team. A beautiful film - highly recommended!
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on 2 February 2016
Beautifully filmed. Must see.
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on 4 March 2010
This is an expensive dvd to buy but you do get quite a lot of film for your money. This film seems to be held as one of the best depictions of the real life of Vincent Van Gogh. I can understand why. The film strikes me as very French as it gets deep down inside Vincent's day to day life with all the domestic details thrown in. Some may find this fascinating. Others may find it tedious. I was fascinated at first but then boredom set in. After all, there are so many scenes sitting around a wooden table and eating countless bowls of soup. Soup rarely makes good cinema. Not even French Onion.

In the film's favour, it really does make a very brave attempt to show us the real man behind the fantasy that history has painted. Perhaps I am just a little too attracted to this fantasy than I care to admit. I just felt the day to day grind was just too much of a grind to watch. And there was not enough art for me. I wanted buckets of colour. Sure, Vincent does have to eat, he does have to deal with domestic issues, and no doubt he had to visit the WC now and then, but I don't really want to see this to remind me that he was a real living man, almost like you and me. I thought Lust For Life was too much fantasy. Well, maybe this is just too little fantasy. But it's enjoyable enough and often visually stunning. I'd just prefer a few more croutons in my soup. Or just less soup...
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on 22 May 2016
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