Absorbing portrait of the legendary artist

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Van Gogh

OPENS AUGUST 8, CERT 12, 158 MINS

Biopics of great artists have a way of turning into ripe melodramas about tormented geniuses. And they don’t get much more tormented than ear-trimming depressive Vincent Van Gogh, the subject of Maurice Pialat’s 1991 film. But what makes this movie so engaging is its subdued, almost matter-of-fact approach to the Dutch painter’s life. Pialat, who died in 2002, brings a keen eye for detail and remarkable spontaneity to his account of the three months before Van Gogh’s suicide, spent in the quiet village of Auvers-Sur-Oise.

More concerned with his complicated personal life than his contribution to art history, the film delicately follows Van Gogh’s romance with the teenage daughter of one of his rich admirers and his fractious relationship with his more conventional brother, Th