The novelty of the animated film Loving Vincent is well-known at this point. Over a hundred artists were tasked with replicating Vincent van Gogh’s works as a backdrop for a rotoscoped story exploring van Gogh’s mental health in his final days.
The animation in the film is at first transfixing. The world that is created with the textures and brush strokes is incredible. This constantly moving backdrop loses depth as the film progresses, however. Not to mention the rotoscoping of the actors does not always mesh with this backdrop.
Still, the animation is the main draw of Loving Vincent. The story is not. The film plays out as a pseudo-detective story in which Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) is tasked with delivering a letter of van Gogh’s but ends up questioning the nature of the artist’s death. There are hints of intrigue in this, given it allows the film to delve into the psyche of van Gogh’s tortured artist persona. The overall plot arc, though, does not lead to anything of import, which makes the film feel like merely a means to an artistic end.
As visually spectacular as this film appears on its surface, the promise of a moving story using representations of gorgeous works of art does not come to a cinematic head. The artwork does not move as much as a cinematic depiction of art should move. Large portions of the film, as a result, come off static.
Loving Vincent is a massive undertaking with some beautiful animated sequences to show for it. However, the ambition in production does not translate to an ambitious narrative film. As an art piece it can be viewed as an intriguing experiment, but the film never truly exceeds its concept.
Loving Vincent: B
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)