This stunningly photographed and skilfully acted film uses an accretion of naturalistic detail to present an emotionally restrained but utterly compelling account of the last three months of Van Gogh's life. Living in Auvers-sur-Oise with his sensitive and knowledgeable patron Gachet (Sety), Van Gogh (Dutronc) works quietly and steadily, meanwhile flirting with Gachet's precocious daughter Marguerite (London). However, his ill health, a brief return to the debauchery of brothels and drink, and his irrational resentment of his brother Theo's failure to sell his work, provoke erratic swings from brooding introspection to frustrated anger. Since Pialat has no desire to canonise the artist, there is no attempt to trace the origins and development of his 'creative genius'; nor, avoiding the hazards of biopic cliché, does he seek to illuminate these dark corners of his subject's troubled soul. In the leading role, Dutronc has exactly the right quality of physical frailty and stooped sadness to complement Pialat's beautiful, poignant images.
Cast and crew
Gérard Sety Bernard Le Coq Jacques Dutronc Elsa Zylberstein Jacques Vidal Leslie Azoulai Corinne Bourdon Alexandra London