'Vincent & Theo' looks good but sometimes is hard to follow

December 24, 1990|By Lou Cedrone | Lou Cedrone,Evening Sun Staff

''Vincent & Theo'' is Robert Altman's long and languid story of the Van Gogh brothers, Vincent and Theo, whose lives were anything but joyous.

It is easy enough to walk out of the film in the first hour, but Altman's method becomes more apparent as the film moves along. And the movie, if not always dramatically stirring, does look good.

The tough part is staying with it long enough to become involved. ''Vincent & Theo'' is undoubtely helped by the fact that Altman and his camera men try to approximate the primary colors with which Van Gogh dealt. It gives the film an unusually rich texture. When the movie simply plods, the color helps divert.

The film, however, could use subtitles. So much of the dialogue is simply lost.

Tim Roth is Vincent, and Paul Rhys is Theo. According to the film, the Van Gogh brothers were fiercely devoted to each other. While Vincent painted, Theo managed an art gallery. The fact that he was never able to promote his brother's work is an irony the film underscores from the start, when a Van Gogh painting is seen going for some $18 million at an auction.

The film follows Vincent through the Hague, Paris and finally Arles, where he went mad and shot himself to death. Before he did, he shared his quarters with Paul Gauguin, who apparently found it difficult to compliment Van Gogh on his work.

''Vincent and Theo'' will play at the Charles through Jan. 2. Roth and Rhys are outstanding.

''Vincent and Theo''

** The story of the Van Gogh brothers, Vincent and Theo

CAST: Tim Roth, Paul Rhys, Wladimir Yordanoff

DIRECTOR: Robert Altman

RATING: PG-13 (nudity)

RUNNING TIME: 136 minutes

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