Hand-painted film Los­ing Vin­cent is lovely to look at, but a bit plod­ding

Calgary Herald - - MOVIES - CHRIS KNIGHT ck­night@post­ twit­­film

If Vin­cent van Gogh had ever made a movie, it might have — no, it would have — looked like this fas­ci­nat­ing ex­per­i­ment by co-di­rec­tors Dorota Ko­biela and Hugh Welch­man.

The story of a man try­ing to un­der­stand the painter’s 1890 sui­cide, Lov­ing Vin­cent was shot as a tra­di­tional film, then painstak­ingly painted (oil painted!),

frame by frame, by a team of more than 100 artists, to mimic van Gogh’s style. The ef­fort took more than six years. Dou­glas Booth stars as Ar­mand Roulin, son of post­man Joseph Roulin, and part of a fam­ily that was close to the painter and ap­peared in many of his works.

When a let­ter from Vin­cent to his brother Theo is found more than a year af­ter the painter’s death, Ar­mand sets out to Paris to de­liver it, only to learn that Theo had died less than six months af­ter his older sib­ling.

What fol­lows is a kind of de­tec­tive story, with Ar­mand vis­it­ing and ques­tion­ing Vin­cent’s doc­tor, the doc­tor’s daugh­ter, an innkeeper, a paint sup­plier and oth­ers, un­cer­tain whether the sui­cide cause of death is even true. “What I’ve been told doesn’t add up,” he muses darkly at one point.

The rather dry na­ture of Ar­mand’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion is at odds with the glo­ri­ous style of the movie. Fea­tur­ing back­grounds and even weather in­spired by van Gogh’s many paint­ings, the film is a treat for the eyes. At times the char­ac­ters seem to be scam­per­ing through the artist’s can­vases.

But the style of one con­ver­sa­tion af­ter an­other, in­ter­cut with black-and-white me­mories and re-cre­ations of events in van Gogh’s life, makes the story play out like a tele­vised po­lice pro­ce­dural.

And the mostly Bri­tish and Irish cast mem­bers sound out of place in the French coun­try­side. Fans of the famed painter should en­joy, if noth­ing else, the unique look of Lov­ing Vin­cent.


Each frame of Lov­ing Vin­cent was painted in van Gogh’s style. It took 100 artists more than six years to com­plete the feat.

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