Loving Vincent wants you to focus hard on the six-year process it took to make this movie. This oil-painted film is the first of its kind, with over 100 artists (including Canadian Valerie Fulford) painstakingly painting over 65,000 frames to make a cohesive cinematic work of art. Each frame is in the signature swirly style of tortured painter Vincent van Gogh.
Visually, it’s a marvellous one-of-a-kind. Just like van Gogh’s hypnotic work, filmmakers Dorotea Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (and their dedicated behind-the-scenes team) allow viewers to get lost in the landscape. This trance is a very helpful attribute considering how often the scenery changes in this biographical story – the travelling blends in nicely. The expressions of the characters are unfortunately frozen though. It’s easy to overlook this flaw until you recognize how calm everyone seems to be when discussing their connection to the passionate painter. I’m aware Loving Vincent is in its own league, but taking notes on the imaginative beauty of Richard Linklater’s rotoscoped Waking Life wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.
The script is where Kobiela and Welchman really miss the mark, although it’s appreciative to see how much personal details were used to construct this story. It’s a mix between a documentary and a straight-up mystery as a postman’s son (Douglas Booth) is requested by his father (Chris O’Dowd) to deliver a letter written by the late artist one year after his death. Just like the limited range of the performances, the narrative (written by the filmmakers and Jacek Dehnel) drones on without much emotion.
The motive behind Loving Vincent is good though, and further compliments the exquisite animation. Not only is the film paying wonderful tribute to van Gogh’s career, but its ability to convey an artist’s resonating influence is quite moving and memorable.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie