Loving Vincent: a visually dazzling mystery exploring van Gogh’s life and death


Douglas Booth in Loving Vincent.
Douglas Booth in Loving Vincent.

WHO needs a stuffy art museum when you can see Vincent van Gogh’s artistic vision come to moving life in Loving Vincent.

More than 100 artists painstakingly hand painted each frame of this drama/mystery to emulate the legendary but troubled artist’s work and the result is a visually dazzling experience rarely captured on film.

In 1891, one year after Vincent van Gogh died of a self inflicted gun shot wound, a letter written by him and addressed to his brother Theo is discovered.

The artist’s friend and postman Joseph Roulin (Chris O’Dowd) asks his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to deliver it to its intended recipient.

Armand discovers that Theo died not long after Vincent, and seeks his widow’s address from Dr Gachet (Jerome Flynn), who spent time with Vincent in his last weeks and treated him like family.

But the more Armand speaks to the town’s people where Vincent died, the more he believes his death might not have been suicide at all.

While Loving Vincent is visually stunning to look at, it may take your eyes a few minutes to adjust – the moving painting aesthetic may wreak havoc on those without the best eyesight.

Plenty of thought, time and effort have gone into the visual presentation of this story; such an arresting look could have easily overshadowed story and character – but the script is intriguingly structured.

Though slowly paced, this mystery/ film noir unravels in compelling fashion much like a detective story; each story told about Vincent is another piece of the puzzle and an interesting perspective, with some even contradicting others.

Trying to understand a tormented artist without their side of the story is like thinking about the boundaries of space – it could drive you bonkers, but this is a lovely, heartfelt tribute.

Loving Vincent (M)
Directed by: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Starring: Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
Four stars
In cinemas November 2

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