Lust for Life (1956)
“I want to create things that touch people.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… then by his understandably overwhelmed cousin (Sterke), who recognizes that Vincent’s obsessive love is more than she can manage:
We’re happy for Vincent when he meets a like-minded soul in Brown, who he’s able to live and paint with for at least a while:
… though the eventual dissolution of their partnership is painful to watch, too. Thankfully, Vincent’s caring brother Theo is a consistent source of quiet sustenance:
… and we remain grateful for everything he did to help make Vincent’s life easier while he could. His hiring of Gaugin to “babysit” Vincent leads to yet more heartwrenching scenes, culminating in Vincent’s infamous slicing off of his own ear:
Vincent’s personal recognition and insistence that he will be safest in a sanitorium makes us grateful for the self-preservation he possessed, at least for a while (Marion Ross of “Happy Days” fame plays the nun below):
Most marvelous about this picture, however, are Minnelli’s successful attempts to show us Van Gogh working on dozens of his best known pieces, across a variety of landscapes and scenarios (below, Everett Sloane portrays Dr. Paul Gachet, who ‘treated’ Vincent during his last years of life):
It’s also a joy to hear so much smart dialogue about art and colors, as when Vincent is explaining his process to Gaugin, who utilizes a different approach:
The film’s closing image, gradually panning out to see the scope of much of Van Gogh’s work:
… is an especially fitting and touching finale to this fine biopic.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
One thought on “Lust for Life (1956)”
Since I’m not a fan of the work of Minnelli (with some exceptions), this version of Van Gogh’s life doesn’t sit well with me. I tried rewatching it – and ended up doing a kind of skip-through.
Overall, it simply feels too overly earnest and reverential, like it consciously set out to be AN IMPORTANT FILM about the painter. Part of the problem is the script (which apparently is very fictionalized; not surprising). But mainly I have a hard time buying it all emotionally – esp. Douglas’ actor-y performance (which he tends to give regularly; I usually don’t find him convincing).
More to the point, however… I think Minnelli’s film is now dwarfed by Altman’s superb ‘Vincent and Theo’ (1990) and I would steer ffs to that film instead.
For the sake of comparison, I started a rewatch of ‘V&T’ – only this time I watched the original made-for-tv version, which is over an hour longer than the version released in theaters. I was pulled in immediately and stayed riveted for the entire 3 hr., 20-minute running time. Now *that* is a must-see flick!