Loving Vincent, a debut feature film by husband and wife duo Dorota Kobiela and Huch Welchman, is currently the first film to be entirely animated through the use of oil painting. This film was praised by many and has a dedicated fanbase, but is this film as good as its fans make it out to be?
Loving Vincent's story follows Armand Roulin (voiced by Douglas Booth), who's on a quest to deliver a letter to Vincent Van Gogh's brother Theo (voiced by Cezary Lukaszewicz). This final letter, written by Vincent before his passing, was given to Postman Joseph Roulin (voiced by Chris O'Dowd) who then passed it on to his son Armand.
During Armands's journey, we uncover the life of Vincent Van Gogh through the eyes of the people around him; people who all see Vincent's life in different lights and have their own unique opinions of him.
My Thoughts After Watching
This film is a very complex film that I had to watch two times to fully grasp. It was also interesting to hear all of the character's unique perspectives on Vincent's sad story of his life and then death.
Unfortunately, the portrayal of this story wasn't done in the best way. This film did feel like it was simply Armand going between characters to learn about Vincent, there wasn't really that much action, and action was usually very brief or subtle. Some people might like the lack of action but I didn't.
I can tell that the writers have put a lot of thought and research into this film, but it, unfortunately, wasn't told in the best way.
I can tell that a lot of research went into the making of this film as these characters all feel alive and many of the main characters have a lot of depth to them. I especially liked when they showed a particular scene from the perspective of multiple characters, with each of the characters seeing the event in a very different light.
This story's main character, Armand, felt like a detective in this film, he was assertive and bright for much of the film. Unlike some other detectives, he had a more vulnerable side to him that was shown off really well; in addition, he also has his own struggles and issues that he had to overcome.
There were lots of other characters, each with their own many character traits. This film separates the characters well to avoid confusion; most scenes will only focus on one character at a time. This gives the viewer enough time to take in what that character is saying. Also to further help avoid confusion this film highlights several people over others so that you don't have to remember every one of them.
The visuals are what will immediately jump out at you in Loving Vincent; they're very colourful and striking and do take a bit of time to get used to. Once I quickly got used to the look I could immediately see the resemblance between them and Vincent's work. This film is very true to Vincent's paintings and looks almost indistinguishable from them.
They even recreated some of Vincent's paintings in this film; I think that 76 paintings were recreated in this film, but I might be wrong. The lighting was also remarkably well done, and the characters looked very realistic; if someone told me that this was a live action shoot with an oil painting filter applied on top, I probably would have believed them.
I was also convinced that some of the black and white scenes were live action but when I asked Loving Vincent's director, Hugh Welchman, about that assumption during a Q&A session he did, in fact, confirm that it was made up of oil paintings too. He added that they could be smoothed over, due to them being black and white. This smoothing over resulted in them having a more realistic look. I'm amazed at how real some of those scenes looked. Many characters appeared as if they were real living actors, they looked terrific!
The animation was very smooth. I loved how they handled motion in this film, with them giving some frames an effect that looked like motion blur. They also painted in translucency really well in things like smoke and reflections.
This film was most definitely worth seeing on the big screen, it looked gorgeous.
The audio was all great for this film. I really liked the sound design that was used, and the voice actors fit their roles remarkably well. The directors of Loving Vincent intentionally picked actors who looked very similar to the characters in this film. This casting choice added even more realism to the film and is why the character's voices match their look so well. The score is also excellent and fitting to the film.
Films like Loving Vincent are why I love animation. I love movies that try new things and push the boundaries as to what can be done in animation. This film is remarkably creative and has a complex story. It has well-developed characters and outstanding visuals that have never been translated to film until the release of this film. There's a lot to like about this film, but I wish that the story had a bit more action to make it a bit more exciting.