Watson Reviews: At Eternity’s Gate (Spoiler Free)

I was not looking forward to this movie but it has an outside shot at Best Picture and Best Actor and I tend to watch all of those.

Last year I waited to see Phantom Thread in the hopes it wouldn’t get a Best Picture nod and it did.

This year, I saw the one I wanted to avoid, and it will probably get shut out. With that wonderful feeling, I sat down in the theater.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

The story covers the life and struggles of Vincent Van Gogh.

While others were receiving fake, the man whose paintings have sold for over $100m for one work suffered in anonymity and ridicule.

His mental health was not aided by the fact that he was definitely ahead of his time.

WHAT WORKED:

  • L’art pour l’art. The cinematography was beautiful; capturing both Van Gogh’s art and the natural beauty that inspired them.
  • A performance that captures unrecognized greatness. Willem Defoe (Spider-Man) delivers a compelling performance as a man who knew he was great but suffered because others around him weren’t ready for his brilliance. This gives me hope that future generations will finally build a religion around my Justice League deathmatch article!
  • The camera work mimics the Master’s brush strokes. Like Van Gogh’s brushstrokes, the camera panned fluidly and suddenly, as if imitating the master himself.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

  • That same camera angle made this the Bourne Supremacy of arthouse flicks… This movie, a slow burn about a 19th century artist, gave me more vertigo than Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in 3D. Clever doesn’t always equate to crowd pleasing, I suppose. Maybe in 100 years, audiences will appreciate it…
  • The movie is so slow! Besides the fast, jerky camera work, nothing else is fast in this movie. I know art is deliberative, and the film explains the process, but I’d almost rather watch the paint DRY than sit through this dull movie one more time.
  • We experience the height of arthouse pretension. More of the B-side of art for art’s sake. It was such a cliche, that it should end with “Fin” and be done with it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

At Eternity’s Gate is classic Oscar pandering, but one from a different age. Maybe DeFoe deserves a nomination and possibly a cinematography nod, but I think this one largely gets overlooked.

If I want Van Gogh art, I’ll go to a museum and look at his paintings

Overall, I give At Eternity’s Gate a score of 6.5 “Inappropriate Apology Notes  out of 10.

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