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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 2, 2017

Loving Vincent Movie Review: An Animated Film Using Actual Oil Paintings That Exhibits Exquisite Craft On Screen

‘LOVING VINCENT’ is an animated film done in an extraordinary way, with a total of 125 painters working for six years inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpieces to capture the world of the famous artist in a unique cinematic experience. The results with the vivid painting brushstrokes are just amazing. Each frame has something to offer and hold our attention. The look of the film definitely exhibits exquisite craft.

But the beauty of the splendid artworks on canvas is not matched by the story that Directors Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela choose to tell on film. Van Gogh has been dead for about a year in 1891 when the story begins. A young man, Armand (voice by Douglas Booth), is tasked by his father (Chris O’Dowd), a postman, to deliver the last letter written by Vincent. Both of them have sat for Van Gogh who made several portraits of them.

The letter is for Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, who, it turns out, has also passed away. Armand goes to town of Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent died in poverty and ends up like an amateur detective investigating the mysterious death of the artist. He is shown garbed in the same bright yellow suit that is made immortalized by Van Gogh on canvas.

He interviews several people who have known Vincent, including his doctor (Jerome Flynn), the doctor’s cooperative daughter (Saoirse Ronan), a local barmaid (Helen McCrory) and a boatman (Aidan Turner). Their stories are told in flashbacks, which are in black and white like monochrome pencil drawings. Armand thinks Vincent didn’t really take his own life, as what is generally believed, but that somedy else shot him and he just claimed that he shot himself.

A recent Van Gogh book in 2011 claimed Vincent was actually shot by a local teenage bully called Rene Secretan who’s been torturing Vincent for some reason and loves to move around with a gun. But why Vincent claimed that he killed himself on his deathbed is never really made clear. The artist signs his letters with “Your loving Vincent”, and this is where the film got its title.

As a film made from actual paintings, “Loving Vincent” is worth watching but, sadly, it doesn’t tell us much about his life. Maybe for this, you should watch the 1956 filmbio, “Lust for Life” starring Kirk Douglas as the tormented Dutch painter who started painting late in his life, cut his own ear because of desperation, and sold only one painting in his lifetime but turns out to be one of the greatest artists of all time.