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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vincent & Theo (1990)

The story of the Van Gogh brothers, Vincent (Tim Roth) and Theo (Paul Rhys), and the close but complicated relationship between them, one incessantly flirting with madness through out his life and the other eventually driven mad by a syphilis brain infection. Unfortunately as a character, at least as presented here, Theo isn't very interesting (it doesn't help that Rhys is a cipher) which leaves the focus on Vincent's character. Roth tries and he has some fine moments but his Vincent doesn't have the soul of an artist. I can't say whether his Van Gogh is any more or less accurate than Kirk Douglas's Van Gogh in LUST FOR LIFE but at least Douglas gave us the passion of an artist. Roth's performance at times seems as misguided as Tom Hulce's Mozart in AMADEUS. Apparently conceived as a mini series for the BBC, the script was cut to 2 1/2 hours and re-conceived for cinemas. Robert Altman creates a visual tableaux that accentuates the Van Gogh connection which is the most engaging aspect of the film. And as an Altman film, it deserves to be seen as even his flawed works are not without substance. Two performances worth mentioning: Wladimir Yordanoff brings a quiet arrogance as Paul Gauguin and Jip Wijngaarden as a selfish prostitute. Also with Jean Pierre Cassel and Johanna Ter Steege (THE VANISHING).

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