Monday, June 8, 2009


14th French Film Festival
Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex

Even though the lead actor (Jacques Dutronc) doesn't resemble the famous painter physically, he did a pretty good job in portraying the painter as a mentally conflicted soul. A man haunted by a sense of inadequacy regarding his paintings and ravaged with a strange mental illness (severe depression) yet he also lived his last days with so much vibrant passion and intoxicated vigor.

This film presented the last 2 months (67 days) of his life which he spent in the quiet and idyllic surroundings of Auvers sur Oise, a small suburb off Paris. The setting is in the late 1890s yet aside from the authentic wardrobe depicting the era, I somehow got the sense that the narrative could have been currently unfolding in some small French provincial town.

The biopic showed the various characters who interacted with Van Gogh were a diverse group. From the plain innocent daughter of Dr Gachet who falls in love with the painter, the worldly prostitutes in the brothels which Van Gogh regularly patronized to his immediate family consisting of his brother Theo, an art dealer and his wife, Joanna. They all offered a sense of what makes him tick as a painter and a person.

The cinematography naturally veered towards images of the vast luscious French countryside, the small town like setting to the visuals of the excesses of a Parisian brothel.

The dialogue is entirely in French with English subtitles.

The pacing of the film was a bit slow in the middle part of the biopic. Certain sequences were too long and seemed to drag on forever. While the significant parts (in my opinion) were rather brief and not too elaborate, unfortunately.

Overall though, I believe it is a realistic portrayal about the final days of Vincent Van Gogh. His personal demons eventually overwhelming his conflicted soul. After all, history does show that most of the greatest artists that ever existed indeed led very colorful, complex and melodramatic lives. So Van Gogh was in excellent company. Heh!

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