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Maurice Pialat's brilliant, immensely moving depiction of the painter's last days was heralded as one of the best films of the 1990s.
Voted one of the best films of the nineties in TIFF Cinematheque's international poll of film curators and historians, Van Gogh captures the last days of the painter with intensity and restraint. Director Maurice Pialat, the subject of two retrospectives at the Cinematheque, has given such stars as Sandrine Bonnaire and Gérard Depardieu some of their finest moments on screen; here Jacques Dutronc joins them as the tormented artist. Shot in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent his final months, the film remakes the "artist's life" genre by clearing away myth and hewing, with harsh, naturalistic poetry, to facts. (In this and many other ways, Pialat is the heir of Bresson.) Distilled, humane, immensely moving — its final line will rend your heart — Van Gogh proved "one of the ten best films of [its] decade" (Michel Ciment). "A film of compelling beauty and humanity... Both Pialat and Dutronc employ magisterial discretion and restraint as they evoke Van Gogh's terrifying final hours" (Le Monde).