Vincent and Theo
Film Review


Life is hard, and the Van Gogh brothers are trying hard to make it happen for themselves and what they believe in -- art and each other. Vincent and Theo is not a typical period drama. It is more like a covert documentary; it feels more like the director, Robert Altman, is going back to that time, but he shoots it in his own peculiar style (and not like something from Masterpiece Theatre or Merchant Ivory). The camerawork is very much focused on the people,and it has a very curious, voyeuristic, and studious feel to it; it wants to see and to know. (And this is quite appropriate for a film about people making art.) The Van Gogh depicted is quite mad, striving, maniacal, and tormented. "I have to paint!" Theo is portrayed as a person that tries to take on and be too much at once: true to art as art, successful financially, married with a family, and supportive of his brother. Both Vincent and Theo are both gauche, opinionated, sensitive to covert and not-so-covert slights, and ready to explode with rage. The world they inhabit is drab, grungy, colors washed out; the other characters lack in passion and seem simply to exist. Overall, the film is a bitterly tragic one. There is this tension between the fact that the art of Van Gogh sold for millions and millions and the fact that making it left the creator broken. This is not an easy film to watch, but it is an interesting one, especially for those that wonder about what life was like for historical people. Vincent and Theo does try imagine what it was like for the Van Gogh brothers during their brief lives.

3.75 / 5.0

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