Film Review: Painting emotional picture of artist Van Gogh’s fractured mind

Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh. (Supplied)
Updated 06 February 2019
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Film Review: Painting emotional picture of artist Van Gogh’s fractured mind

  • The movie follows the Dutch artist’s battle with his mental health as he struggles to sell his works or art while living in the rural French town of Arles
  • Probably the best aspect of the film – now screening at the artsy Cinema Akil, in Dubai – is the direction and cinematography

DUBAI: American director Julian Schnabel’s latest film “At Eternity’s Gate,” gives a unique insight into the fractured mind of painter Vincent Van Gogh during the final years of his life.
The movie follows the Dutch artist’s battle with his mental health as he struggles to sell his works or art while living in the rural French town of Arles.
Willem Dafoe superbly portrays the post-impressionist painter’s broken character as he gradually loses his grip on reality. The actor’s Oscar nomination for the role was clearly well-deserved.
The ever-charismatic Oscar Isaac co-stars as French artist Paul Gauguin, his customary carefree bravado providing the perfect foil and comic relief for the dramatic Dafoe.
Probably the best aspect of the film – now screening at the artsy Cinema Akil, in Dubai – is the direction and cinematography. Apart from the stunning landscapes and wide shots, Schnabel’s unconventional filming methods cleverly take the viewer on a trip into Van Gogh’s mind.
Using a hand-held, shaky camera technique to illustrate the instability of the artist’s mental state, Schnabel forces viewers to both wince at and empathize with Van Gogh.
As his journey moves forward, the screen noticeably splits into a clear top and a blurry unfocused bottom, as if the camera lens cracked midway through filming, the effect giving a disturbing insight into Van Gogh’s confused and diminishing outlook on life.
The movie title itself is the main theme of the film, as his paintings capture scenes and keep them alive for eternity. Van Gogh – as if knowing his fate – begins to reflect upon his life and mortality after struggling to get the appreciation his work deserves. Some critics of the day even described his paintings as “unpleasant.”
Beautifully shot, directed and acted, Van Gogh’s struggle with his mental health and the outside world can be summed up through the intense, emotional monologues that are sprinkled throughout the movie. One line stands out: “There’s something inside me, I don’t know what it is. What I see nobody else sees…I wanted so much to share what I see. Now I just think about my relationship to eternity.”


Where We Are Going Today: Bubbleology

Updated 21 February 2019
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Where We Are Going Today: Bubbleology

Connoisseurs of bubble tea in the capital do not have a lot of options as there are few places that serve the Taiwanese beverage. Bubbleology is one of the few that does — and does so in style.

For the uninitiated, bubble tea is a sweetened tea drink to which is added tapioca balls, known as boba, which can be solid and chewy or hollow and filled with different flavors of juice that is released when bitten.

The quirky, unusual drink has grown in popularity around the world in recent years, and Bubbleology takes it to another level with some unique flavor combinations, such as jasmine milk tea and ginger tea with popping lychee boba, among many others. 

The interior decor of the store is equally clever and innovative. In keeping with its name, the cafe resembles a science lab. This also reflects its belief that the preparation of bubble tea should be a precise scientific method, and they have expanded on that idea to also make the whole experience visually pleasing as well.

Bubbleology can be found in Panorama Mall, Riyadh.