Directors: Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman
Writers: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Jacek Dehnel
Starring: Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner, Chris O’Dowd, and Robert Gulaczyk
Release Date: 13th October
“The world’s first fully painted picture film.”
In an industry dominated by franchises and 3D animation, directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman attempt to disrupt the norm. Loving Vincent comes together thanks to 65,000 hand painted frames created by over 100 artists trained in Vincent van Gogh’s style. Witnessing van Gogh’s distinctive impasto animated on the big screen is visually stimulating, but is there depth beyond the kinetic spectacle?
Unlike the film’s distinct artistry, the plot follows a rather imitative storytelling approach.
Unlike the film’s distinct artistry, the plot follows a rather imitative storytelling approach. Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) becomes the audience’s gateway into the story of Vincent’s (Robert Gulaczyk) final days. Armand is tasked with delivering a letter, written by the late van Gogh, to the artist’s brother. Initially reluctant, Armand assumes the role of the narrating sleuth as he becomes the audiences key piece into unravelling the increasingly suspicious circumstances concerning the painter’s death.
The film sees Armand connect with people who were impacted by Vincent, like meetings with ghosts of his past. Through the stories told about him, the audience is brought into the disturbed life of a man who would never see his greatness recognised. All the while, the film questions whether Vincent took his own life or if it was taken by the hands of another. The people Armand encounters paint different portrayals of Vincent, each creating a new dimension to this shadowed character.
The film boasts solid performances from its cast which includes a wealth of Irish talent. Chris O’Dowd voices Armand’s father, Saoirse Ronan voices the character of Marguerite and Dubliner Aidan Turner also has a small role.
Through the stories told about him, the audience is brought into the disturbed life of a man who would never see his greatness recognised.
With just over a ninety-minute running time, this cinematic experiment explores how, with his brilliance, notoriety intertwines Vincent’s very fabric. Even as the central character, he remains the most ambiguous. Ultimately, Loving Vincent does not set out to answer the questions it poses: instead, it lets them haunt you.
Loving Vincent’s animation, although transfixing, can be uneven yet, within this deeply personal homage, there is a true sense of wonder for cinematic possibilities. This film bridges a true connection between van Gogh’s art, his captivating story, and a 21st century audience.
In a Nutshell: This cinematic experience breathes life into the old expression “a picture paints a thousand words.”