A staggering creative spectacle celebrating the life, work, and death of Vincent van Gogh.
A film which is this ambitious in its scope will often have a reputation that precedes it, and indeed it is near impossible to talk to anyone about Loving Vincent without mentioning something along the lines of, “it is that animated film which is entirely hand-painted”. So unique is this film in its technique and style that this caveat absolutely deserves to be included in its synopsis, but thankfully the film far surpasses its unique selling point.
Whilst it ran the risk of being sold as a gimmick, thankfully Loving Vincent is as astonishing and beautiful in its execution as it was in its genesis; undoubtedly the style helps to elevate it, but the fear of it being a gimmick is almost immediately quashed.
Loving Vincent is a staggering creative and technical feat, and an absolute joy to spend time with from start to finish. Crafting a story from some of the most famous human subjects of Van Gogh’s work, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) embarks on a journey to deliver a letter from the late Van Gogh to his brother, Theo. Upon discovering Theo has also died, Roulin encounters various people who knew Vincent in his later life, exploring his complicated life and controversial death.
With a staggering 65,000 hand-painted frames making up this exceptionally beautiful film, the result is something which is stunning, mesmerising, totally unique, and a singularly wonderful experience. To be immersed so fully in Van Gogh’s world through his paintings is an experience like no other, and one which demands to be seen on the big screen.
Unexpectedly, the film is interjected with black and white flashback scenes, which not only provide a stark contrast to the swirling colour of Van Gogh’s paintings, but it also opens up the opportunity for the film to explore and experiment with some different genres. Inspired by film noir, these scenes are amongst some of the highlights of the film, and the stunning paint work looks near photo-realistic at times.
The casting is impeccable, each character being brought to life through a clever mixture of green screen and painting. Whilst the sight of Chris O’Dowd, Jerome Flynn and Saoirse Ronan as oil paintings might be a little jarring to start with, it is still so stunning in its execution that it is easy to adjust to. Jerome Flynn is particularly excellent as Doctor Gachet, his weather face unsurprisingly lending itself well to oil on canvas.
It’s reputation may well proceed it, but the audaciousness and technical prowess of this film is outstanding, and the story is expertly aligned with the quality of the animation. Additionally, Clint Mansell’s score is extraordinary; the master film composer somehow managing to “out-Mansell” himself in terms of its beauty. Loving Vincent is perhaps one of the most exquisite examples of art imitating art, and to witness a film as profoundly beautiful as this one feels like an immense privilege. Unmissable!