Taking painting by numbers to a whole new level – Vincent Van Gogh is fittingly the subject of the first ever fully painted feature film.
A panoply of the Dutch master’s works are intermingled throughout Loving Vincent, composed by a multitude of painters and those clearly enamoured with the artist. Taking the place of figures in his life, landscapes or a backdrop for passers-by, Armand Roulin of the eponymous portrait (Douglas Booth) investigates Van Gogh’s untimely death, pressing Joseph Roulin (Chris O’Dowd), Marguerite Gachet (Saoirse Ronan) and The Boatman (Aidan Turner), amongst others immortalised in the artist’s work.
It would be a dramatic understatement to say that the visuals in this film are stunning. Having brought The Starry Night and so many of Van Gogh’s most well known and lesser acknowledged paintings to vivid, animated life with evident care and love, even casual fans of the artist can revel in an absolutely mesmerising, literal portrait of the man. Making concerted efforts to further understandings of notable figures and illustrations, both sacrosanct to many the follower and fairly the subject of ongoing and fascinating introspection, the film is undeniably a treat for fans of the era and it’s lauded figure.
Having said this, the story itself, replete with dialogue blithely staged and awkwardly advanced to further the plot, does the film no favours. This backdrop adopted merely as a function to proceed to the next visual realisation of Van Gogh’s work and as many more as possible, the frequently frustrating conversations are blatantly apparent to their end and, barring precious few additions, including that of Games of Thrones’ own Jerome Flynn as Doctor Gachet, do little to foster the emotional pull of the film beyond the already deftly crafted images.
Better served by its visuals than anything else and best enjoyed as a site-filled wonder than for any of it’s narrative thrust, Loving Vincent is still a must-see for the art-lovers out there.
Loving Vincent screened as part of the Adelaide Film Festival