At Eternity's Gate | Chicago Reader
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At Eternity's Gate

Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh in this expressive biopic, concentrated on the Dutch painter’s later years in Arles, France, shortly before his death at age 37. Director Julian Schnabel, a painter himself, rightly focuses on Van Gogh’s most prolific period, in which the artist churned out more than 200 paintings in 15 months, with minimal dialogue and striking visual poetry. Other influential characters—Van Gogh’s loving brother and benefactor, Theo (Rupert Friend) and his demonstrative peer, the French painter Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac)—drift into the film, reminding the painter to soak up the vivid, quotidian ephemera of his surroundings when he is, for the most part, living in solitude. Despite being in his early 60s, Dafoe is perfect for this role, his stretchy, craggy face itself a canvas on which to display the artist’s tangled interior life. Dafoe fully commits to his performance, as does Schnabel to the painter’s vision and humanity. The result is a conspicuous fusion of actor, director, and subject: three souls connecting, wedded to art.



  • Julian Schnabel


  • Willem Dafoe
  • Rupert Friend
  • Oscar Isaac
  • Mads Mikkelsen
  • Mathieu Amalric
  • Emmanuelle Seigner
  • Niels Arestrup
  • Amira Casar
  • Vladimir Consigny
  • Vincent Perez
  • Alexis Michalik
  • Stella Schnabel
  • Lolita Chammah
  • Didier Jarre


  • Jean-Claude Carriere
  • Julian Schnabel
  • Louise Kugelberg


  • Jon Kilik
  • Nik Bower
  • François-Xavier Decraene
  • Nicolas Lhermitte
  • Deepak Nayar
  • Marc Schmidheiny
  • Thorsten Schumacher
  • Karl Spoerri

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