From the Chicago Reader (March 1, 1993). — J.R.
A revisionist look at the last 67 days of Vincent van Gogh’s life by the highly talented writer-director Maurice Pialat (The Mouth Agape, A nos amours, Under Satan’s Sun), with singer-songwriter-actor Jacques Dutronc — the Bob Dylan of Paris and the lead in Godard’s Every Man for Himself — in the title part. Ironically, this 155-minute French art movie shows the painter’s existence, including his sex life, to be a lot happier than is generally depicted — much sunnier, in fact, than Vincente Minnelli’s or Robert Altman’s films on the same subject; in any case, it certainly qualifies as a personal work. (The period re-creations of Jean Renoir and John Ford remain the key reference points.) While the results shed little light on van Gogh’s painting, some painters I know are smitten with this film, and the mise en scene and the period flavor are both quite remarkable. With Alexandra London, Gerard Sety, Bernard le Coq, Corinne Bourdon, and Elsa Zylberstein (1992). In French with subtitles. (JR)