Film Review: Loving Vincent

Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s Loving Vincent is something special. The technical achievement is backed up by an engaging narrative.

Armand is asked by his father to deliver a letter. The letter was written by the recently deceased Vincent Van Gogh, and is addressed to his brother. Armand embarks on a journey to find his recipient…

Loving Vincent offers something different: a completely hand drawn film, painted in the style of subject Van Gogh. There is certainly an element of spectacle to this; the film is a visual feast. However, there is also substance to the narrative. 

The film focuses on final days of the artist. The directors use the device of man trying to deliver a letter from the late artist to shed light on the days leading up to the death of Van Gogh. The narrative functions as a something of a mystery, with key players interviewed almost as witnesses in a whodunit. For those unaware of the details of the artist’s demise, this is an entertaining and informative way of telling the tale. Viewers meet a variety of characters who had interactions with the artist. The film paints a portrait of his illness, his personality and attitude towards his work. 

The animation is wonderful. Particularly effective are the black and white flashback sequences. The level of artistry on display is most impressive. Clint Mansell’s score provides a fitting accompaniment to the visuals. Some of the set ups will be recognised by those familiar with the artist’s work. Another great aspect to the film is how the characters have been inspired by those from Van Gogh’s work, as the end credits reveal. Douglas Booth is decent as Armand. Helen McCrory and Saoirse Ronan are also memorable. 

Loving Vincent is a must see for those with even a passing interest in Van Gogh’s work. The film is very entertaining even for those with no interest in the artist, thanks to great animation and good storytelling. 

Loving Vincent has its UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on 9th  October 2017, when it will be simultaneously broadcast to over 180 cinemas across the UK. The film will be released on 13th October 2017.