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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Loving Vincent

I've now seen all five of the nominations for Best Animated Feature for the 90th Academy Awards, and while I can't say Loving Vincent was my favorite, it is certainly the most ambitious. Each frame was hand-painted, in the style of Vincent Van Gogh, its subject matter. Directed by Dorota Kobelia and Hugh Welchman, it is sure to please Van Gogh connoisseurs, who will recognize many of his paintings during the story, and may turn on newcomers to the man's work.

The film is set up as a mystery, with the son of a postman (Douglas Booth) charged with delivering a letter from Van Gogh to his brother, Theo. Booth couldn't be bothered, but his father (Chris O'Dowd) was an admirer and a stickler for the mail to be completed. Booth follows a trail of those who knew Van Gogh, finds out that Theo is dead, and begins to suspect that Van Gogh did not actually shoot himself, but that he may have been murdered.

The look of the film is undeniably brilliant. The flashbacks are done in black and white, in what at times looks like photographic realism. The color portions are full of Van Gogh's thick brushstrokes and vivid colors. Also, interestingly enough, the actors are painted to look like themselves. You'll immediately recognize Saoirse Ronan as the daughter of Van Gogh's doctor, who may or may not have had a romance with him.

Loving Vincent looks greats, but the script is a bit clunky. There's tons of exposition that is clumsily laid out, for those I suppose who have no idea who Van Gogh is (I don't know what they would be doing watching this film). Still, it's a beautiful film and an interesting one.

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