NR, 122 min.
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writers: Norman Corwin, Irving Stone (novel)
Starring: Kirk Douglas, James Donald, Anthony Quinn, Pamela Brown, Everett Sloane, Niall MacGuinnis, Noel Purcell, Henry Daniell, Madge Kennedy, Jill Bennett, Lionel Jeffries
Vincente Minnelli’s “Lust For Life” reminded me a great deal of the recent biopic “Jobs”. It’s pretty much a CliffsNotes version of the great painter Vincent Van Gogh’s life with a powerful performance by Kirk Douglas at its center. Much like it could be said about Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, Kirk Douglas looks remarkably like Van Gogh, but his performance doesn’t depend on his similar likeness.
By today’s standards, “Lust For Life” does not make for the psychologically revealing portrait we’ve come to expect of our biopics. It’s a great history lesson about the man, however. It touches upon all the highlights, and Douglas’s powerful portrayal pushes the whole thing along. I think that’s the right image. He pushes it. It wants to stop at all the important points, but the performance keeps it moving. It would get bogged down in its didactic nature were it not for Douglas shoving past the point of wearing out its welcome at any one spot.