REVIEW: LOVING VINCENT
Directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman
By Christopher Spencer
Directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, Loving Vincent stars Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, Chris O’Dowd, and Robert Gulaczyk. Vincent Van Gogh (Gulaczyk) has been dead for a year, and his friend Armand Roulin (Booth) is trying to find out what happened. In this oil-painting animated film, we explore the effects Van Gogh had on those around him, whether they be good or bad.
Every frame of this film has been painted by hand by 115 artists, in a collaborative art project that I have never experienced before. The animation moves and glides like real cinematography, and is so painstakingly detailed that one could believe that Van Gogh himself painted everything. And in a way he did.
Loving Vincent is made from lovers of Van Gogh’s work, people who know his stories inside and out, and want to explore what that is like in a movie. The music from Clint Mansell and the performances from the actors are all so solid, and make this lively, colourful world feel real.
That’s why I’m disappointed to say that Loving Vincent is exceptionally boring. The beautiful paintings simply mask what is an incredibly dull story that doesn’t have Vincent Van Gogh ever speak actual dialogue, and instead we follow a flat protagonist in a Citizen Kane-style story to show what happened to Vincent. It’s all flashbacks and mostly voiceover or conversations in cafés, and all we want to see is the man himself paint the most beautiful artwork that people know. We barely get that, and have to slog through a 90-minute runtime that feels like 2 hours.
Loving Vincent is a movie that I’ve never seen before visually. But that story and the characters and the narrative techniques are reminiscent in literally hundreds of films. It isn’t interesting, it doesn’t take risks or tell us a new story, and just simply relies on that perfect visual style as a means of wonder. It’s a half-hearted venture and one would be best served watching the Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor” if you want the better story of the tortured artist.