REVIEW: At Eternity’s Gate. Malvern Theatres.

At Eternity’s Gate is a study of genius, self-belief and madness, and as such it can be giddying experience at times, especially as the subject is Vincent van Gogh.

Camera angles are deliberately wobbly at times, or the camera occasionally goes out of focus, especially when the painter is close to a breakdown or a revelation. Likewise, conversations are repeated in Vincent’s head, and they are sometimes distorted acoustically, as the painter struggles with his vision and his isolation. It might all sound very art house, but that would be the wrong impression.

Willem Dafoe is incredibly moving as a grizzled van Gogh: a man who is only truly loved, perhaps, by his own brother Theo - played with enormous sensitivity by Rupert Friend. Theo, although younger, is the grown-up to van Gogh’s inner child.

Gauguin, played convincingly with panache by Oscar Isaac (as a career bohemian on the rise) is too bombastic with his opinions and to meagre with his praise to be a friend.

Elsewhere, everywhere, Vincent is challenged: by a conventional priest who cannot appreciate his art, through to the good people of Arles and Auvers - most of whom simply want to see the back of the strange painter.

It is not surprising that the film makes use of recent research to claim that van Gogh was shot by a hostile teenager armed with a gun. Sadly, nothing could be more likely; but at least the marvellous art survived.