Van Gogh

Director: Maurice Pialat
Year Released: 1991
Rating: 3.0

"Revisionist" biography of the final months of Vincent van Gogh's life strips him of his 'madman mystique,' showing not a raving lunatic, but as a melancholy man who shoots himself in the chest rather arbitrarily one day and dies. Pialat's approach is rather leisurely and resists going into too much detail about van Gogh's views on art or life - he is, on the other hand, very much interested in van Gogh's sexual proclivities. I think that's what makes this such a curio: Pialat's 'lowering' the artist off the pedestal, showing him as someone who walks among us, who eats with us and drinks with us and instead of going to the factory, he goes to the fields ... he isn't crazed, he doesn't scream as he tears off his ear, he's a perfectionist, he likes girls and God doesn't channel his way through him. This isn't the portrayal of artistic persecution we like to believe took place - there's a romance to artistic insanity - but it's the kind Pialat's giving us. He's no Byronic hero, he's not a role model, what was inside his head is a mystery to all but van Gogh. And honestly, did we need another red-haired Kirk Douglas ranting and raving...?