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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

At Eternity’s Gate

"A Tapestry of Beauty"

At Eternity’s Gate is a tapestry of beauty stitched exceptionally by Julian Schnabel. His occupation as a painter in real life over qualifies his abilities to direct this film and his vision is stretched out like the sun is stretched out over the world. The film follows the final years of painter Vincent Van Gogh’s life. There have been other films about him, but no artist will let you into his heart the way Willem Dafoe has. I’ve always found Dafoe to be an extremely mysterious person and I mean that in a good way. A beautiful way. There’s something very unexplainable and haunting about him that he always uses in his work. He is a perfect Van Gogh because the mental state he lived in during his final years came from the inability of others to see things as he did. He is definitely mad but who isn't? More often than not, it’s the madness that exposes the talents of all people. Dafoe puts so much into his performance but not all at once. He portrays Van Gogh’s circumstances as quietly threatening but not over dramatic as he’s never shocking or in your face and I feel that’s why the film works so well.

There was a part of Van Gogh that was extremely lonely as he’s a man who just wants to love and be loved. The bond he has with his brother Theo (Rupert Friend) is the heart of At Eternity’s Gate. The scene in which he literally cradles Van Gogh, I will never get out of my head for as long as I live. I watch something like this, and I say, “This is what harmony looks like, this is the way things are supposed to be. This is how we’re supposed to treat each other.” At Eternity’s Gate sparked an unidentifiable comfort in me that I haven't felt in a long time and I intend to cherish it for as long as I can.

The performances of Oscar Isaac and Mads Mikkelsen are necessary factors in giving the film the story it’s trying to tell. Yet, the film is ultimately Dafoe and Friend’s wine glass to drink from as they are both such lovely people and any reminders of such people are worth everything to me. Cinematographer, Benoit Delhomme captures the beauty of France’s countryside with an up-boosting air of pride reflecting Delhomme’s love of where he comes from. The audience, and I, could tell that France was a huge inspiration for Van Gogh.

Tatiana Lisovskaya’s music is the kind of peaceful music that will put out any mental fire you are experiencing. We should all be so lucky as to have a film composer with such a soothing nature as music comes from within and what she has created here is simply love inside her she had to get out.

The writing is monumental and gives Dafoe every key he needs to unlock the door to Van Gogh’s soul. The film explores his passion for art, culture and the heartbreak of the reality that some don’t appreciate it. At Eternity’s Gate is a film that makes audiences feel they’ve just bitten into a delicious apple. Somehow, the first bite always tastes best, and the film is a constant first bite all the way.

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