Loving Vincent (2017)

Cast includes: Douglas Booth (Noah), Chris O’Dowd (Get Shorty), Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark), Aidan Turner (Poldark), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Directors: Dorota Kobiela (The Flying Machine), Hugh Welchman (Peter & the Wolf)
Genre: Animated drama | Biography | Mystery (94 minutes)


Huffington Post

Animated brushstrokes lead us through the opening credits, where we learn the film we are about to see was entirely hand painted by a team of 100 artists. In close ups of just a few brushstrokes, we easily recognize the signature strokes and colors of Vincent van Gogh. The film opens in 1891, a year after Vincent’s death. “I don’t see the point,” says Armand Roulin to his father Joseph. Joseph was the postman in Arles who picked up and delivered letters between Vincent and his brother Theo every single day. In clearing out Vincent’s room, an unsent letter has just been found from Vincent to Theo… the last letter before the suicide… at least… suicide is the “official” cause of death. One thing for sure, everyone in Arles had an opinion about the strange, red-haired man… some really loved him although most thought he was crazy. Kids in town used to torture Vincent… “The whole town was against him.” Yet, when Vincent returned from the hospital after the ear incident, he wrote that he was “calm and in a normal state.” “How did he go from ‘calm and in a normal state’ to suicidal in 6 weeks?” Joseph asks. At the very least, he owes it to Vincent to make sure the last letter gets delivered.

He enlists the help of his son, Armand, but the mission almost ends in Holland because Theo died 6 months after Vincent. With the letter in hand and new questions in his mind about what really happened to Vincent, Armand decides to pay a visit to the Paris art supplier Theo paid to send canvas and paint to Vincent. “Maybe it goes back to his childhood,” he says. Vincent was the van Gogh’s second child named Vincent… the first died very young. His mother was constantly disappointed when #2 Vincent could never measure up to the imaginary life of #1 Vincent. Failing at nearly everything, Vincent first picked up a brush at age 28. Theo recognized his talent right away and devoted his life and most of his wealth to enabling Vincent to paint. Over the course of “just 8 years, Vincent went from an amateur to an artist of influence,” says Doctor Gachet, who was with Vincent at the end. Still, Vincent felt he was never good enough.

As Armand traces Vincent’s life… going to the places Vincent went, talking to the people Vincent knew… we learn more about Vincent van Gogh’s life and mysterious death… seeing everything the way Vincent saw it. Every frame of the film is hand painted over a frame of a traditionally shot film. The actors are totally recognizable, even though they look like van Gogh himself painted them. The places all look like places Vincent painted. Not only is the film beautiful, it’s conceptually very clever, with beautifully animated transitions, mood and style changes. During the end credits, we see scenes from the film alongside van Gogh’s actual paintings. Of course, there was a rich trove of paintings and subjects as a visual starting point. “No detail of life was too small or too humble for him,” says Marguerite Gachet. Vincent painted every single day, no matter the weather. It’s delightful tracing Vincent’s life with the inquisitive postman’s son.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

A mission to deliver an unsent letter leads to a quest of discovery about the writer’s life and mysterious death

Popcorn Profile

Rated: PG-13
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Sensitive
Distribution: Art House
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Animated/Computer
Nutshell: Vincent van Gogh’s life and death
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative and Thought Provoking

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