May, 2009, Ireland—in final preparation for the part of Vincent van Gogh, actor Stuart Dunne pulls out his front teeth.
This motion picture play follows an actor immersed in the last 70 days of Van Gogh's life, headlong toward suicide and death. It blurs the line between reality and art. We experience this metamorphosis as the actor paints in real time. In order to tap into an unconscious and emotional truth, the director showcases an artist constantly at work. Stuart Dunne reacts to stimuli as he believes Van Gogh would have done. The project ultimately produces 67 original works of art in 70 days, in line with Van Gogh's prolific output. The actor reaches an emotional state where he believes in the logical necessity of the artistic process. There are no other characters, only the artist and his ego.
The original jazz music score by Scott Gwinnell is trans-figurative. The music takes on a major persona in the narrative, almost as it it were the Ghost of Van Gogh, omnipresent, inside and outside the mind of the artist. Like a French tone poem, impressionistic sketches for piano and saxophone hypnotically play alongside the canvas.
As soon as the titles roll, 70 Days in Laois sets itself apart as a uniquely contemporary screenart-work. It captures authenticity through the mind and body of the actor, while all else is transposed to modern day Ireland, County Laois. The pastoral intimacy of the Irish landscape and its environ inform the artist, and therefore the screen. This cinematic metaphor confronts an artist contemplating life and death! Stuart Dunne lives the part of Van Gogh, becoming the tortured soul! He suffers addiction, mental illness and is rejected by women and rails against bourgeois power structure controlling his art and life. Van Gogh is the world's most famous artist that the art world shunned. We are called to witness, as an audience, this emotive metaphysical odyssey through loneliness, despair, frustrated rage, and isolation. As we see a persecuted artist on the outside, the audience is asked to question and look inward at their own struggles. What does it mean to be an artist and a human? The process is a search for truth. It sets off electricity. Certain truths spark out. "If you would have me weep, you must first suffer pain."—Horace