Loving Vincent (2017)

Loving Vincent
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Writer: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Cast: Douglas Booth, Josh Burdett, Holly Earl, Robin Hodges, Chris O’Dowd, John Sessions, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Saoirse Ronan, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
Seen on: 18.1.2018

Postmaster Roulin (Chris O’Dowd) has attempted several times to deliver the last letter of Vincent van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk). By now, the intended recipient – Vincent’s brother – has passed away as well. Hoping that Vincent’s close friend, Dr Gachet (Jerome Flynn), is the right person to receive it under the circumstances, Roulin sends his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to Gachet’s village with the letter. Armand is not happy about the task, but once he learns more about Vincent, he becomes intrigued and starts to investigate his death.

Loving Vincent is visually astounding, taking van Gogh’s paintings and bringing them to life. Unfortunately the story doesn’t do the visuals justice, so the film only half works.

The look of the film really is stunning. Painstakingly recreating van Gogh’s paintings with 100 artists, each frame of the animation is a hand-painted oil painting that includes the actor’s facial features and movements in paintings that are instantly recognizable as van Gogh’s. The effect is amazing, a fascinating mix of classic painting and revolutionary technique. And it’s beautiful.

The cast was really good as well, but unfortunately they are stuckin a pretty bad story, so there is only so much that they can do.

I really don’t understand why Kobiela and Welchman would choose to make this film a crime story, with Armand convinced that van Gogh was murdered and didn’t kill himself. For one, I think it’s a problematic way to deal with suicide (although by the end they get it together). But more importantly: it just didn’t fit the tone of the film.

It would have been perfectly alright if Armand had just slowly discovered more about Vincent without any super-dramatic murder investigation. The film would have been stronger for it. But with the story it tells, my appreciation of the visuals was interrupted every once in a while with me rolling my eyes at the plot. And that’s just a pity.

Summarizing: Definitely worth seeing, even if the story isn’t great.

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