Loving Vincent - Picturehouse Spotlight

Loving Vincent

Sarah Cook, Marketing Manager at the Ritzy, Brixton take a first look at Loving Vincent, which hits cinemas on Monday 9 October.

The man, the madness, the masterpieces.

There isn’t a soul on this earth that doesn’t know the pain and anguish of Vincent Van Gough. The Dutch artist who crafted such stunning works as Starry Night and Sunflowers is often deemed one of the greatest of all time. His tale of depression is, too, spoken about with revered tones, many speaking of his torment as much as they talk about his work.

Van Gough has been depicted in countless works include a sob-inducing Doctor Who episode and a Benedict Cumberbatch led television drama Van Gough: Painted With Words. However, directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman and 100 artists immortalise the painter unlike any other with Vincent.

In the first ever oil painted feature film, Loving Vincent explores Van Gough after his death, with a young Armand Roulin, a family friend, trying to track down Vincent’s family posthumously to deliver a letter. Though his luck with Vincent’s final note winds up fruitless, Armand uncovers stories of Vincent’s life before death in gossiping quaint French town Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise. There the mystery of Van Gough is uncovered…

Loving Vincent is a spectacle that should be witness on the big screen. Each frame is hand-painted and the life of Van Gough fully realised in each stroke of colour. Imitating Van Gough’s swirls and patterns, Kobiela and Welchman allow the characters to flourish. Acting like a stop-motion feature, the directors and artists agonised seven years to produce it, replicating film frames and working with the actors live on set to imitate their movement with the art. The result is an astonishing, breath-taking vision of vividness that recreates the world seemingly through Vincent’s eyes.

Transforming the last years of Van Gough’s life into a murder mystery may be risky but it is performed more like two intertwined sides, told through people who revered him or reviled him. Van Gough ruffled the roost of Auberge Ravoux and, at that time, gossip spread through the cornfields like wildfire. Kobiela and Welchman are astute to flesh out both sides, suicide and accident, bringing Van Gough’s character to life in this earnest portrayal. With flashbacks to his past and the deep-seated issues underlying his character, the story may seem simple but there are layers that engage you.

Loving Vincent has an array of acting talent including Douglas Booth as Armand, Chris O’Dowd as his father, and Saoirse Ronan as Margaret Gachet, the possible last love of Van Gough. Each are captured excellently here. Robert Gulaczyk plays the acclaimed artists and is superb within the role.

An endearing film, Loving Vincent showcases the life of a man who saw beauty within the life surrounding him. While he may not have seen the beauty within him, and he was plague all his life, Vincent Van Gough transformed that anguish into his work, and chose to spread kindness when he could. If anything, this is a loving tribute to the most famous artist of all time.

The Loving Vincent Live Satellite Premier is screening in cinemas on Mon 9 October.

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