Film Review – Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent, a Polish-UK co-production, funded by the Polish Film Institute, is about Vincent van Gogh’s life, a Dutch post Impressionist, who painted in a unique fashion by moving away from the conventional Impressionism. The film starts one year after van Gogh’s death. A friend of the artist named Joseph Roulin, who is a postman, asks his son Armand to deliver the artist’s last letter to van Gogh’s brother Theo. The son who has not had any affiliation with Van Gogh, tries to eschew the task but finally takes it up. However, fate soon leads him to embark on a journey of solving the actual cause of van Gogh’s death – was it really suicide or a covered-up murder?

We watch the film through Armand’s point of view, a man who is initially disinterested in the case, then progressively learns more about van Gogh’s life and empathizes with the abstruse artist. Even if you are someone who has not heard of the artist before, this film will make you realise that most of us resonate with van Gogh. He spent all his life trying to pursue his passion, whether or not the jobs he took up in this journey made his ends meet. Only in the last few years of his life did he find peace in what he did. It was during these ephemeral years that some of the best paintings in the history of art were produced, the most famous one being ‘Starry Night’. Scientists are baffled by the accuracy of his pictorial representation of turbulence in the painting, as the physics behind turbulence is a difficult concept yet to be understood. This shows that art can express certain inconceivable ideas in the most striking and beautiful way.

Juxtaposing our lives with van Gogh’s, we can come to a consensus that most of us are unaware of what job gives us utmost joy. We either compromise on our happiness for the sake of money or vice versa. We tend to worry if we are burdening our loved ones; the painter had similar self-doubts about himself before taking his own life. His troubled heart found solace in observing nature and painting it in a unique style which influenced Post-Impressionism. However, when he introduced his technique for the first time to the artistic community, he faced backlash; an obvious reception most of us would face when we try to deviate from the ordinary. However, this never stopped him from painting. Yet, he did not bear the fruits of his efforts. Only one of his paintings was sold during his lifetime. People became interested in his paintings only after the mystery surrounding his death spread like wildfire. His paintings received worldwide acclamation and now serve as sources of inspiration for other artists. 

With a run time of just over 95 minutes, the film is a visual treat for its viewers. The specialty of the film is that it is the world’s first hand painted film by nearly 100 artists across the world. Thick, short and spontaneous brushstrokes, characteristic of the “Starry Night” painter, have been employed in each frame. The film is the epitome of how like-minded artists can collaborate to create not just one, but 65000 frames. All of these frames put together, resulted in an animated film which is unique in style and composition. Every real-life character Vincent van Gogh had met has been painted accurately. 

While flashbacks are in black and white, the rest is a depiction of van Gogh’s painting style. The credits roll with the original paintings of personalities in Van Gogh’s life. The film ends with its final frame being the movie poster ‘Loving Vincent’. 

This movie is a must-watch for all artists and people who appreciate art. Even if you do not fall into either of the categories, you would be satisfied nonetheless. It will make you ponder over your life and the degree of self satisfaction you have. A word of caution here. Although it is a slow-paced film with a blurry ending, if you have 1.5h at hand to spend, then this is definitely a film that you can watch. I can guarantee that you would end up loving ‘Vincent’.


Swedha Sankaranarayanan

An inquisitive, over-thinking and math-loving creature who wants to have enough space for her own library and enough cash for travelling the world (including Antarctica).

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