Vincent Van Gogh wrote, “whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much.” Van Gogh painted much, starting in his late twenties and mostly in the last two of his thirty-seven years. Could it not be enough to say that he accomplished much because he created more than 2000 artworks? That his paintings are among the most recognizable ever by any artist says plenty about him accomplishing much.
The film title “Loving Vincent” may be assigned to the notion that the mentally troubled Van Gogh loved much. Maybe it refers to the word he used when he signed letters, as in “your loving brother, Vincent.” Maybe it refers to what it meant for his brother Theo and others to love Vincent. Maybe it’s about the widespread, long and lasting love for a great artist.
Surely, the title “Loving Vincent” applies to the commitment, effort, and stylistic homage that created “the world’s first fully painted feature film.” More than one hundred painters on more than a thousand canvases generated more than 65,000 movie frames that make up this motion picture. The look of the film radiates Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh.
The film delivers a brilliant gimmick. If you lean on the brilliance, you’ll like this movie. If you can’t let go of it being a gimmick, the start-to-finish Van-Gogh-styled renderings may stale your appreciation some.
And what of the film’s story? If you fully engage with this biography as mystery plot, you will like its attempt to piece together the last days of Van Gogh’s life, including his death from a gunshot wound. The prevailing wisdom says he shot himself, though it is suggested (not just in this movie) that someone else may have done the shooting, perhaps accidentally. And what about delivering Van Gogh’s last letter?
If you feel the film lacks the weight of a good mystery or the dramatic tension you want to associate with Van Gogh’s tortured soul, this too could leave you wanting. One thing is certain. You’ve not seen a movie like this one. It is a loving, accomplished film.