By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Loving Vincent sets a new benchmark for film-making with its stunning and completely oil painted portrayal of the troubled artist’s final days.
Young Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) starts to investigate the death of artist Vincent Van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk) when asked to deliver a letter to Vincent’s late brother Theo.
Loving Vincent is probably one of the most ambitious films ever made. Perhaps it’s even better to refer to it as a project rather than a film. Made over 7 years, the film reflects the artist’s signature brushstroke style over 62 450 frames all hand-painted by 125 different artists. The amount of work gone into this is just mind-boggling. It’s the world through the eyes of the artist himself. Truly spellbinding, and it’s only made better by Clint Mansell’s gorgeous soundtrack.
Directed and written by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, the story itself is based on interpretations of the artist’s many letters, and of course the subjects in his paintings, who you have the opportunity to compare with the actors in the end credits.
It’s a rhythmic tale, broken up by black and white flashbacks of Vincent’s demise, which is heartbreaking at times, but just so captivating. It even reminded me a bit of Citizen Kane. It does drag sometimes though – the need to have to tie in real life paintings sometimes leads the investigation astray, and Douglas Booth does seem a little awkward in Armand’s shoes at times.
However, the cast is for the most part fantastic and it’s great fun spotting familiar faces in the paint, which include Chris O’Dowd, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, Aidan Turner, John Sessions, Eleanor Tomlinson, and even Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones). The true star of the show however, is the fresh-faced Robert Gulaczyk. The Polish actor has a haunting sadness in his eyes that really brings the artist to life.
Loving Vincent is a true spectacle and a labour of love. It’s an absolute must for the big screen. Don’t wait. It’s also just earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature, and considering the film was produced by award winning studios Breathru Productions and Trademark Films, it’s likely to hit the Oscars as well.
Loving Vincent will be in Czech cinemas from January 25.
Photo: Roger Ebert