The relationship between the obsessive, brilliant painter Vincent Van Gogh and his more practical brother Theo is at the center of director Robert Altman's well-received biography, originally produced as a miniseries for European television.
Now universally acknowledged as masterpieces, Vincent Van Gogh's works were ignored in his lifetime, despite the best efforts of Theo, a struggling gallery owner. When he fails to make a profit from his brother's work, Theo finds himself torn between art and commerce, a conflict deepened by Vincent's increasing emotional neediness.
Soon, the situation worsens, and both brothers are forced to struggle with depression and madness. Altman's distinctive directorial approach avoids clichés, allowing his leads to create contradictory and sometimes unlikable characters.
Tim Roth captures Vincent's devotion to his art, his difficult personality, and his descent into mental illness without resorting to histrionics, while Paul Rhys provides equally proficient work as the more repressed Theo.
The cinematography by Jean Lepine illuminates the links between Altman's trademark wandering camera and Van Gogh's impressionistic painting style.