Film Reviews, Short Review

Lust for Life (1956)

3/4

An earnest and literal biopic of Vincent Van Gogh’s life, directed by the ever under-valued Vincente Minnelli and starring Kirk Douglas. Earnest in the sense that it wholeheartedly believes in the narrative of the artist as a troubled genius, literal in the sense that it very much literalises a lot of perceived narratives about Van Gogh’s life. Lust for Life is a finely crafted film, and could have been a lot cornier, especially given that the screenplay streaks its themes in big bright “THIS IS THE POINT” colours across the canvas, in a way unbecoming of Van Gogh. Kirk Douglas puts in a fine performance, although he does occasionally overreach on the intensity; it’s Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin who really steals the show here with a relaxed and commanding performance, clearing the oil fumes away from the film’s stuffier sections.

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