I’ve been following Loving Vincent ever since the Kickstarter campaign for it broke out back in 2014. The concept of building a film around a series of oil paintings constructed together through the style of Van Gogh’s distinctive flair had me sold instantly. While the whole creative process behind the project is certainly a marvel to witness, every other aspect of the film is eclipsed by its main selling point.
First-time filmmakers Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman are so committed to recapturing Van Gogh’s trademark brush stroke, but the images lack any sense of understanding for the essence that he brought within his work. It is certainly a bizarre choice to incorporate this style into a film that focuses on the posthumous relationships of the artist. Loving Vincent withdraws from its vibrant Van Gogh-inspired template to a monochromatic scheme solely when returning back to the painter’s life through flashbacks. While certainly for monetary purposes, the decision to scale back at some point in the movie if that’s all the budget allows is certainly understandable. What comes across as rather frustrating is that the filmmakers decided to slide back on the scenes of his life, which are the most idiosyncratic moments to the narrative. There is an argument to be made that Vincent’s dark past evokes the bleak color palette on display, but the black and white in these circumstances take away from the majesty of his work.
The decision to model Van Gogh’s subjects as the concrete basis of the film comes across as an exceptionally lackluster decision, especially when the characters are presented in such a dry standing. A certain level of appreciation deserves to be granted to the distinct vernacular of speech during this time that Loving Vincet admittedly accomplishes in depicting, but the conversations about Vincent lack any deep-seated understanding for who this man truly was as a person.