Film Review: Loving Vincent
Directed by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Starring Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner, Robert Gulaczyk
Loving Vincent is something truly new in the world of cinema. It’s the first feature-length film made entirely using paintings. In this way, the film is quite a remarkable and authentic work in showcasing the painter’s art and legacy. There are approximately 65,000 frames which are oil-painted, with 125 artists involved in making this film which took four years in total.
The film is set around the task of delivering Vincent Van Gogh’s last letter to his brother Theo, after Vincent’s death. The postman who has been delivering Van Gogh’s letters gives the letter to his son, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), to find Theo in France. Armand finds himself in the small town of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent had also stayed for a long time. There he encounters a number of people who knew the painter and who express various degrees of liking or despising him. Armand’s mission goes from delivering the letter to finding out what happened to Vincent Van Gogh. This is repeatedly reminded to the viewer throughout the film by the question “How does a man go from calm to suicidal in six weeks?” However, there are many levels in the plot that show a masterful artist being treated as a lunatic during his life. However, this movie is a monument that honours his paintings. The individuality and sensibility of the plot are shown through the artistic expressions of painting, acting, and individualistic talent.
Individuality is one of the outstanding features of this film and it illustrates the hard work behind the film as well. Throughout his life, Van Gogh painted more than 850 paintings, and almost all of the scenes are based on his paintings. For augmentation, we can look at how each of the characters is introduced in the film. They enter exactly as in Van Gogh’s paintings. However, Van Gogh painted each painting from a different perspective, thus pointing to what could be considered as the only problem with hand-painting these scenes. In spite of the difficulty, the artists seem to manage to show the same painting with a couple of scenes. Furthermore, the actors add something quite special to the stylistic compositions with their facial expressions. Each of these facial characteristics is distinctly depicted so that the viewer is emotionally drawn into the scene. It then creates a more realistic world which we see through the eyes of Van Gogh even after his death. His peculiarity and original artistic mind establish an eloquent world.
As mentioned before, the frames are hand-painted, however the actors were first shot to comprehend how they would fit in the frame, and were painted later on. This emphasises that the modern arts Van Gogh created are appreciated. In addition, colour plays a chief role in the film through lighting, noir effects, day and night, and flashbacks. The flashback scenes are painted black and white, but also with a different technique; it is screened as if we are watching painted black and white photographs, to remind us that it is both happening now and in the past.
The movie is a package of modern art history and Van Gogh’s own mind. The powerful love and connection between Vincent and Theo, and Vincent’s suffering as a maverick genius is visibly clear thanks to the artists, aas wells as Kobiela and Welchman, the directors behind Loving Vincent.