Kirk Douglas received his third Oscar nomination for portraying troubled artist Vincent Van Gogh in Lust For Life.
Kirk Douglas seemed to be the perfect cast for Van Gogh as soon as you see him in this film. He simply looks like him in this movie. He has the right face, and body type that fits Van Gogh perfectly. Douglas from the opening scene though also shows Van Gogh's strange form of constant depression at all times no matter what in his life. Douglas rightly shows a constant pain in his face even if he is not saying anything, there is clearly always something harming him from the inside, even if outwardly he does attempt to hide it at times.
His constant struggle with pain though is quite interesting though because as the title says he does have a Lust for Life. The Lust is shown through his devotion to his painting, but also his need and want to understand the common man. His passion for the people is incredibly well shown by Douglas who shows a certain in happiness in being able to watch and paint these particular people, even if he always shows a pain behind that happiness that never goes away. His most principal pain being his lack of friends and his inability to be comfortable with his surrounding.
Douglas is so painfully forceful in his performance as Gogh that it is sometimes hard to watch. He desires certain things so much, his intensity is so extreme that it cannot be ignored. Douglas makes Gogh pain so real that it is hard to take, because Douglas strikes the right emotional note. He especially does this in his scenes where he lusts after his cousin. His intensity, and raw that makes the scenes in a very interesting way painful to watch. Douglas is downright chilling especially when he puts his hand over a candle flame. Douglas makes Gogh's pain, and frustrations all too real all the time.
Douglas' performance is sad complicated work that makes Van Gogh a very vivid man. He combines all of Van Gogh's complex emotions brilliantly. His want for some companionship, but also his anger when challenged about anything about himself. He never makes Van Gogh as simple man in anyway. He is always a man in a sad state, even with his brilliance well shown even if he is not fully even aware of his own talent. It is a complex complicated performance, one in which he fully utilizes his whole body to suggest Van Gogh lusts, pains, and hopes. A challenging character Van Gogh is and Douglas is more than equal to the task.