I Love Yellow. I Paint Blue.
At Eternity's Gate
Schnabel's philosophical thinking on the life of an ingenious painter, paints an abstract art on the screen, if not bright enough to shine over all its viewers. Schnabel's work has always been for a selective audience, he breathes pure art in every frame and there is never any doubt about that, his rigidness on uncompromising tales is a double edge sword. His film is never able to perpetually win over you. He takes his time and asks for your patience, but personally I adore his ways of asking that, his methods are productive for me, primarily because his films are immensely personal to each individual.
His, is a film that you cannot share with anyone, he wouldn't let you, and you wouldn't want to. Now, this is a feeling that one rarely encounters while watching a film, often filmmakers in order to present a generic idea or speak to a larger audience, gets lost in their self created vagueness of the nature. But Schnabel has his own rhythm, he doesn't aspire to be metaphorical, his tones hits the apt note on those high pitches that will engulf you for that hour.
The camera work in here is eerily similar to Malick's theme, and just like it, Schnabel puts you into those characters' shoes, that are both warm and comfortable. Nature, being the primary motivation of both the artist Van Gogh and Schnabel in here, plays a vital role, but unlike other usual description of it, the nature is explored on both the sides of it. And balancing the film on that dark and inspiring note of nature, this riveting tale is a delight to watch, mesmerized in its own overwhelming world that it whirls around, it asks you to reach for it and be completely moved by this ride.
Spread across three acts, the first act sketches the methods and routines of the painters along with his body language and mannerism to tiny aspects- this is the strongest act, since it barely contains any words- and has nothing but majestic performance that drives it. On the second one, it deals with his equation with his beloved friend and his yearning for the art that he puts into words. The final harrowing act that leaves you shook in your seat is a bit dark but has an incredible conversation between a priest played Mikkelsen and Dafoe, himself. Despite of tremendous work and detail on cinematography and camera work of Schnabel, this film belongs to Dafoe.
He is completely lost on the figure that he plays, so devoured and so blatantly committing, that notwithstanding on an ideal line, you are drawn towards him. Aforementioned, the entire first act is conjured by him, he and his beautiful nature surrounding him, the wind that his hair floats in, the hard rock he sleeps on and the soil he is covered in, it is a testament of Dafoe's brilliant career. At Eternity's Gate you might not remember the amazing camera angles or a compelling screenplay, what you will take there proudly is Dafoe and his eyes that whispers bright yellow color.