2017, PG-13, 94 min. Directed by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Oct. 13, 2017
If there is something that the PR people from the film Loving Vincent want you to glean from the press materials for this hybrid doc on the death of the famous artist Vincent van Gogh, it is this: There were a lot of people painstakingly crafting this film. Seven years of production, 125 artists lovingly rendering every frame, and who knows how many babies were born during that period. The end result, an animated collage of most of van Gogh’s paintings, lovingly rendered by those artists, toiling away, seeks to be an examination of his death. Which, by the way, was of suicide after he shot himself with a gun and then later died in his bed. And I daresay that it is probably the unfortunate task of the film critic to point out that however many days or months or years you spend working on a project, if the end result is unsuccessful, it honestly doesn’t matter.
The plot of Loving Vincent is extremely threadbare: the son of a postman is tasked with delivering a letter van Gogh sent to his brother Theo. Much mystery is swirled around whether van Gogh shot himself (There were youths! With guns! In the vicinity!) and the life of the famous (after his death) artist is examined with a degree that might satisfy a survey class of Art History 101, but you may get a C+. But what Loving Vincent really is is a love letter to the brushstrokes and the colors that van Gogh saw, that he created on canvas. That is where the film really shines. If this were a video essay tableau of fluid re-creations of the master’s work, I would have been more than happy. But to hang it all on some contrived piece of nonsense that begins as a game of Clue and ends with the frustration of a game of Risk, well, that is doing absolutely no one any favors. As beautiful as Loving Vincent may appear, there is nothing behind the brushstrokes.