An absorbing, disturbing study of the symbiotic bond between Vincent van Gogh (Tim Roth) and his art-dealer brother Theo (Paul Rhys).There’s an unspoken, bottomless need between these brothers that both sustains and tortures them. Vincent, of course, is the black sheep of the family, an artist living in squalor who associates with whores, peasants, and fellow artists. Theo, who can’t get people to buy Vincent’s work, feels both superior and inferior to him. Outwardly different, they have matching souls, as director Robert Altman establishes when the film’s title appears — both names are painted on a canvas in the same violent scrawl.
Of the two leads, Roth has the more theatrical role — it’s his most fully created performance, and we start noticing the slightest variations in his walk, the way Vincent’s defiant energy gives way to madness — but Rhys, in the tougher sane role, shouldn’t be overlooked. His Theo is closest to us; he represents our ambivalence about insane genius — our fear, our envy.This remains Altman’s best film since his peak in the ‘70s.