It’s a story both ecstatic and tragic, and Schnabel is more interested in the former than the latter.
— Peter Howell,
Dafoe might not make logical sense in the role, but he commands it, his demonhaunted eyes communicating the artist’s inner turmoil during the fertile creative period in the south of France that presaged his final unravelling.
— Barbara VanDenburgh,
This man, much like the real one, is acutely aware of his fragilities. Yet by adamantly focusing above all else on van Gogh’s work — and its transporting ecstasies — Schnabel has made not just an exquisite film but an argument for art.
— Manohla Dargis,
Dafoe’s work, the look in his searching, despairing eyes, feels beyond conventional acting, using intuition as well as technique to go deeply into the character, putting us in van Gogh’s presence.
— Kenneth Turan,
Vulgar defacements of the art work match the eye-rollingly portentous melodrama with which van Gogh’s torments are depicted.
— Richard Brody,
Willem Dafoe’s performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination on Thursday.
Oscar Isaac as Paul Gauguin and Emmanuelle Seigner as Madame Ginoux.