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Dan's Review: Van Gogh's beauty comes alive in animated "Loving Vincent"

Oct 27, 2017 11:16PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Robert Gulaczyk in Loving Vincent - © 2017 Good Deed Entertainment

Loving Vincent (Good Deed Entertainment)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some violence, sexual material and smoking.

Starring Robert Gulaczyk, Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, Chris O'Dowd, John Sessions, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Cezary Lukaszewicz.

Written by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Jacek Dehnel.

Directed by Dorota Kobiel and Hugh Welchman.

GRADE: A

REVIEW:

When it comes to artists, I admit that Vincent Van Gogh is by far my favorite. I had the privilege of visiting the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, the place where Vincent spent his last days before his tragic death. It was an incredible experience to see the actual places he walked and scenery he painted. The details of his death are explored in Loving Vincent, an incredible animated film that features more than 67,000 hand-painted frames of film. That’s right, the entire movie was painted by hand by more than 100 artists over a five-year span. The film’s main characters are based on actual people whose portraits were painted by Van Gogh. Real actors were filmed and their scenes then painted in the style of Van Gogh.

The film centers on the travels of Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), the son of “Postman” Roulin (Chris O’Dowd). Armand is entrusted with the task of delivering a letter to Theo Van Gogh (Cezary Lukaszewicz) two years after the artist’s death. When he arrives in Paris, Armand discovers that Theo died less than a year after Vincent, and he sets off to Auvers seeking answers. He soon discovers plenty of rumors surrounding Vincent (Robert Gulaczyk) and his death (which is historically considered a suicide). Through conversations with Dr. Gachet (Jerome Flynn) his daughter Marguerite (Saoirse Ronan), his housekeeper Louise Chevalier (Helen McCrory), Adeline Ravoux (Eleanor Tomlinson) and a “Boatman” (Aidan Turner), Armand begins to doubt that Vincent killed himself, and he continues to investigate the “last days” of Van Gogh. The troubling question is, why would Vincent commit suicide just when his tormented life seemed to be turning around? There are no easy answers, and even though the film’s story plays out like a murder mystery, in the end, Vincent Van Gogh’s death seems destined to remain as enigmatic as the artist himself.   

Loving Vincent is a stunning film, and much like an actual Van Gogh painting, it’s a movie that expresses the world’s colors and beauty as the artist would. Perhaps Van Gogh’s greatest gift and lasting legacy was his ability to see colors and beauty in everyday surroundings, with everyday people, despite dealing with his own demons. He was not the artist of society’s upper crust; he was the artist of the working class, a poet with a paintbrush, accessible to all. While the facts of Van Gogh’s life and death rely on a lot of conjecture, Loving Vincent is a heart-felt homage to the man; his life, struggles and artistic mastery.

Loving Vincent’s animation is unmatched in terms of animated filmmaking, and mixed with the beauty of Van Gogh’s artistry, it’s an awe-inspiring experience. I wouldn’t recommend Loving Vincent as a great murder mystery or biography. It is simply something worth experiencing, as you would one of Vincent’s exquisite paintings.


Loving Vincent Trailer

Arts+Entertainment movies movie reviews arts Impressionism
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