His film-maker grand-nephew Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street by a jihadist. What about the titular post-Impressionist artist himself? This beautiful, exclusively hand-painted tribute to the great Vincent Van Gogh suggests the troubled Dutch painter was murdered. The general perception is Van Gogh died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1890 in France.
As an exploration of the life and times of the impoverished painter, Loving Vincent is poignant and heart-breaking. He sold only one painting out of 900 in his lifetime, this genius who wrote, “there is nothing more artistic than to love people”.
Vincent (Robert Gulaczyk) and his loving supportive brother Theo exchanged countless letters and fittingly, a letter sets the tone for the narrative when a post master (voiced by Chris O’ Dowd) asks his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to deliver the just deceased artist’s undelivered letter to his brother. But Theo has also died, and Armand decides to visit France to pursue the matter. There, Armand interacts with Van Gogh’s models and acquaintances who give conflicting accounts.
As a murder whodunnit, the film is not entirely convincing in ascribing a motive to the alleged killer. But path-breaking “Loving Vincent” certainly is: it is entirely hand-painted by 125 artists who created 65,000 oils over a seven-year period in Poland and Greece.
These include 94 replicas of Van Gogh’s stunning landscapes and portraits. A technical triumph, the film embeds animation into live action footage. A highlight of the end credits is a lovely cover version of Starry Starry Night, Don McLean’s tribute to Van Gogh. Artists and art lovers, watch and weep.
Cast: Chris O’ Dowd, Robert Gulaczyk, Saoirse Ronan, Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn
Directors: Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman
Rating: * * * *