Van Gogh review

With his ear-lopping, absinthe-swilling antics, it's no wonder Vincent Van Gogh has been the subject of so many biopics - from Vincente Minnelli's Lust For Life in 1956 to Robert Altman's Vincent And Theo in 1990.

Director Maurice Pialat's stunning 1991 French effort is definitely the best of the lot, leaving aside the clichéd craziness in favour of a measured look at Van Gogh's final three months. Burned out by whores, booze and the demands of his muse, Vincent (Jacques Dutronc) travels to the countryside where patron Gachet (Gérard Séty) keeps a watchful eye on him.

Capturing the artist's temperament without sensationalising the action, Pialat sketches an engaging portrait of Van Gogh's final days. Best of all, by choosing to focus on such a short period of time, Pialat gives lead man Dutronc the space to summon a monumental, intense performance as the ragged artist laid low by his own quiet despair. Outstanding.

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