Loving Vincent is animated painted bio-pic on the late great artist Vincent Van Gogh. Its art style is done entirely representative of his iconic work and the biography follows the uncertain circumstances around Vincent’s suicide. If that has not intrigued you enough to watch the movie then Loving Vincent may not necessarily be for you. But I’d still recommend it anyway just on how beautifully it portrays itself.
The story of Loving Vincent could be easily brushed off as a biography piece on the last few months of Van Gogh’s life before he committed suicide. Were it to go that route I would find it a dry yet educational piece on the circumstances surrounding the event but Loving Vincent is handled much more cleverly than that. Rather than having a single narrator tell us just historical facts on the situation, Loving Vincent’s history is framed like a narrative story. The story follows one of the subjects of Van Gogh’s portraits, Armand Roulin, played by Douglas Booth, who is handed a letter from his postmaster father, played by Chris O’Dowd, written shortly before Vincent’s suicide. While very apprehensive to act as a delivery boy for his father, Armand heads out to deliver the letter to Van Gogh’s brother but on his journey, he encounters the many faces that surrounded him during his final days as they unravel the uncertain end to Vincent’s life.
On a very serious note, Loving Vincent is one of the most beautifully animated movies of 2017. In my personal opinion one of the most visually captivating films of the last couple of years. This is because not only has the art style perfectly replicated the typically known Van Gogh style as well as his other less known charcoal paintings but the film was entirely animated with painted stills. 65,000 frames of animation and all of the frames are oil paintings on canvases. It’s almost too much for me to take in the painstaking work that would need to go into creating a team that could develop 65,000 different canvases depicting imitations of Van Gogh’s work. Natural talent aside, that is a tall order for any team of artists to pull off but the animation department behind Van Gogh did it.
Van Gogh’s oil-based painting texture ads a lot of definition to the setting in Loving Vincent but what really captivates the viewers isn’t just that but the film’s use of rotoscoping. To simplify the explanation of the style, rotoscoping is the art of tracing over certain movement to mimic hyper-realistic movement. Many of the early Disney movies used that for their princess movies to great effect. In Loving Vincent’s case, their rotoscoping has made the animation so fluent and real that Van Gogh’s artistic texture just ads layers that weren’t there before. It’s just simply a beautiful looking and moving movie.
But just pretty images don’t make for a strong film so this biography ingeniously wrote its biography aspect as if it was a narrative event following Armand Roulin. Now biographies with the typical solo narrator talking about a subject can be old and stale if you don’t switch things up. However, I never had that issue here with the way the movie unfolds. It flows naturally, the atmosphere is calm and intentional and the voice cast does a splendidly phenomenal job. The highlight role would have to be Douglas Booth as the rash and inquisitive Armand. The rest of the characters though are well done and create a wonderful nod to Vincent’s work as every work is from his paintings. It’s a non-stop celebration of Vincent’s life.
Definitely, watch Loving Vincent. It has hands down become one of my favorite animated movies of the year. I won’t say this film is for everyone. The biography nature of the film and the subject of Van Gogh may be a point of apprehension for some who don’t particularly like biographies or have interest in Van Gogh. But I as someone who has seen tons of documentaries and can admit a lot can be dry and dull plus being someone who started viewing this with no real interest in Van Gogh’s work or history was more than pleasantly surprised. This is definitively a beautiful movie. I would recommend anyone I come across to see it. It portrays itself in such a way that it can endear itself to even those who may not be invested at first. It’s an artfully done film that deserves to be appreciated like how Vincent has been after his time.