“Loving Vincent” addresses its subject, the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, with two what-ifs — one marvelous and fantastical, the other empirical and pedestrian. What if his paintings, with their wild colors and vibrant brush strokes, had been able to move? And what if the bullet that killed him had been fired by someone else?
A long and arduous labor of love by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, the film turns van Gogh’s work into an unusual kind of biopic. Using tens of thousands of oil paintings commissioned from scores of artists, the filmmakers transform famous works of modern art into a hypnotic and beguiling cartoon. The people van Gogh rendered on canvas — the provincial French functionaries, doctors, barmaids and farmers immortalized on museum walls — are brought to uncanny life, with the voices of professional actors, some of them well known.
Chris O’Dowd gives voice to a village postmaster in “Loving Vincent.” Credit Good Deed Entertainment
They participate in a meandering detective story. Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), the layabout son of a village postmaster (Chris O’Dowd), is instructed by his father to deliver a letter to Vincent’s brother Theo. Armand travels to Paris and then to Auvers-sur-Oise, the northern French town where Vincent died, leaving behind contradictory memories among the people he painted in his final years. They recall a passionate, hard-working artist, but not always the tormented, suicidal genius of legend.
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