Loving Vincent – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

November 1, 2017 by Roz Tarszisz
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Loving Vincent is a cinematic ode to the paintings of Vincent van Gogh and cannot be compared to anything else.

It was first shot as a live action film with actors. Then every frame of the film, totalling around 65,000, has been hand-painted over by 124 professional oil-painters who travelled from around the world to studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production.

It’s France in the summer of 1891. Vincent committed suicide the previous year but when Postmaster Roulin (Chris O’Dowd) finds an undelivered letter from Vincent, he charges his wastrel son Armand (Douglas Booth, Jupiter Ascending) to hand deliver Vincent’s last letter to his brother Theo in Paris.  The brothers had a rich correspondence with Vincent writing daily.

The task is complicated by the death of Theo. Armand is directed by Vincent’s paint supplier to Doctor Gachet (Jerome Flynn) in the quiet village of Auvers-sur-Oise – an hour outside Paris – where Vincent lived and painted and where he and Gachet were friends.

The doctor is away for a few days. Armand resolves to wait, during which time the villagers tell him different theories of why Vincent took his life and finds himself searching for answers to Vincent’s suicide just when the artist was on the brink of achieving success. Adeline Ravoux (Eleanor Tomlinson, Poldark) who works at her family’s inn where Vincent lived and died says Vincent seemed content.

Initially I was a bit giddy from the brushstroke movements but soon got used to it. (But then I get dizzy doing Facetime.) The actors are moving paintings but still recognisable.  Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) plays Marguerite, the doctor’s daughter, Helen McCroy (Harry Potter) is Louise Chevalier, his housekeeper. As he talks to the villagers, Armand starts to wonder if Vincent was murdered.

This enriching cinematic experience immerses the viewer in the artist’s vivid works.  The storytelling does seem rather simplistic at times but as bit of a mystery biopic it provides a different slant on the death of a man now regarded as an artistic genius.

It’s all about the art and directors and writers Dorota Kobiela (who spent seven years on the project) and Hugh Welchman have created a bewitching experience.

4/5 Rated     94mins        Released November 2      Biopic, Mystery Oil-painting animation

Starring Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Chris O’Dowd and Saoirse Ronan

Directed by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman

Written by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Jacek Dehnel

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