Review: Loving Vincent

In March of last year, I blogged about Vincent van Gogh’s struggle with mental illness. At the end of that article I mentioned Loving Vincent, an upcoming film about Vincent van Gogh’s final days. Last night, after what feels like years of waiting, I finally got to see the film.

Loving Vincent is a triumphant combination of a tragic story and mind-blowing artistic visuals. Each frame was hand painted in the style of van Gogh—visible strokes of vibrant colors that are distinctly his style.

The movie is made up of interviews between the main character, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), and several characters van Gogh painted during his short but prolific career, spliced together between black and white memories (not painted in van Gogh’s style, likely to help separate those vignettes from the present events) and stunning, vivid landscapes based on van Gogh’s paintings created during his time in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

In addition to Booth, Chris O’Dowd, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Saoirse Ronan and Helen McCrory all portray characters in the film, all of them people from van Gogh’s portraits. None of these actors were given much on-screen time so I’m not prepared to say any of their performances were standout—except for one and I think most people would agree with me.

Jerome Flynn as the heartbroken Doctor Gachet was brilliant. It helps that Flynn looks like Gachet and that van Gogh’s portrait of Gachet is one of his best-known works.

The story and characters draw you in enough to make you forget you’re watching a series of paintings, until something catches your eye and you remember again.

Sad and inspiring, Loving Vincent really is a fantastic and unique film.

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jillianne hamilton headshotJillianne Hamilton is an author, history enthusiast, book lover, and graphic designer. Her debut novel, Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, was shortlisted for the 2016 Prince Edward Island Book Award. Her debut non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII is now available. She lives in Charlottetown on Canada's beautiful east coast and is working on her debut historical fiction novel.
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