Loving Vincent is my favorite film from 2017. The story is about famed artist Vincent Van Gogh, and depicts an amateur investigation into the mysterious circumstances of his death in 1890. The film is animated in a unique and groundbreaking manner. Artists paint every scene, and the characters in the film are real actors, with their images painted over by the artists to create a beautiful moving, animated feature. It is visually compelling, stunning and magical. You will think your eyes have entered one of Van Gogh’s paintings. Flashbacks to Vincent’s life prior to his death are painted in a black and white format, making for fascinating visual storytelling.
The film is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some violence, sexual material and smoking. It is now showing in theaters. Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman directed Loving Vincent.
You may have heard of Vincent Van Gogh in art history class, or even have had the honor of seeing some of his paintings in person in a museum. (I had the privilege of viewing some of his work in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, an enchanting museum, and Van Gogh’s work is even more stunning in person.) You may have heard the famous tale of how he cut off his ear. Why? Due to hearing voices? What about his mysterious death, which I had not heard much about. It was attributed to a suicide attempt, but did he really try to kill himself?
Loving Vincent will have you wondering about all these questions and more up until and beyond the dramatic ending. Vincent (Robert Gulaczyk) has settled in Auvers-sur-Oise, France to paint. He is frequently out in nature painting plein air, being tormented by village boys, and having luck, or the lack of it, in love. Vincent was a patient of Doctor Gachet (Jerome Flynn) who lived in the village, and by all accounts, had improved his mood considerably. Was he in love with Marguerite Gachet (Saoirse Ronan)? How upset was her father Doctor Gachet about Vincent and Marguerite becoming involved?
When he met his death, a letter to his brother had been left undelivered. Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), the son of a postman, seeks to deliver it to its rightful owner, and becomes intrigued by the circumstances surrounding Vincent’s death, and therefore his life. What secrets went to the grave, and what can be deduced from examination of the events that transpired in his last year on earth? Armand interviews villagers, and those who knew Vincent best in his last two years on earth.
I know I’ve asked many questions here, and hopefully it will serve to push you along to the theater to see Loving Vincent. As always, I cannot say more about the content of the film without a spoiler. Trust me on this one: the tale will captivate you as will the extraordinary artistry of the film itself.
And a gift for you, Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues singing Don McLean’s Vincent: Justin Hayward - Starry, Starry Night