Visual artist and director Julian Schnabel previously brought Jean-Michel Basquiat's life to the silver screen. In At Eternity's Gate, he portrays the last years of the tormented Vincent van Gogh, who lived a marginal existence but is now in the pantheon of great artists. Schnabel films the way Van Gogh painted: expressionistic, from the visual and emotional perspective of the painter. Willem Dafoe, who is the ideal performer with his weatherbeaten face, plays an intense, vulnerable and searching Vincent.
In the French town where Van Gogh made world-famous works such as Sunflowers and Bedroom in Arles, few people were enamoured of this strange, poverty-stricken oddball. The most beautiful and exalted moments are the conversations Van Gogh has with people who are open to his ideas and view of reality: his beloved brother Theo; a priest (played by Mads Mikkelsen); and the doctor who cared for him at the end (Mathieu Amalric).