Scripted by Julian Mitchell, this covers much the same period (from Van Gogh's decision to paint full-time to the death of his art-dealer brother) as Minnelli's Lust for Life. Indeed, the films are not so very different. True, the focus on the brothers' close but troubled relationship not only mirrors the uneast symbiosis between art and finance, but offers through their parallel experiences a quasi-mystical dimension entirely in keeping with Vincent's art. But the film goes further than Minnelli's in its palpable - sordid, even - physicality and readiness to depict vincent's less endearing qualities. Tim Roth, superb as Vincent, veers convincingly between morose introspection and fervered intensity, while Paul Rhys' twitchy Theo lends depth to a traditionally shadowy figure. Best of all is Altman's simple, uncluttered direction, which makes sensitive use of a strong cast, Jean Lepine's evocative location photography, and Gabriel Yared's compulsive music. Nowhere does Altman sermonise about the artist's greatness; his achievement is allowed to speak for itself. If only more film-makers had such confidence and integrity.
Cast and crew
Johanna Ter Steege