Biopic / Animation / Drama / Crime

Anybody who knows something about the famous 19th century Dutch Artist Vincent van Gogh, will be aware that he was known as being a very tormented soul.

But before you decide not to read on any further. This is not an historic art lecture but more of a ‘Whodunit?’ detective investigation, beautifully animated in the style of the great artist himself.

The most famous movie biography of the painter’s life was probably Kirk Douglas’s (Father of Michael) portrayal of Van Gogh in the 1956 biopic drama Lust for Life. Douglas’s remarkable performance earned him a Best Actor Golden Globe Award and he was also nominated for an Oscar.

This new telling of Vincent van Gogh concentrates on his death rather than his life.
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Bringing the painting to life.

It is 1891, one year after the tragic death of Vincent van Gogh, (Polish actor Robert Gulaczyk) who we are told committed suicide with a gunshot to his chest. He was 37 years young. It was well documented that he struggled with mental illness and was in and out of asylums in later life.

Despite this he did have many friends who cared about him. One of them was his postman Joseph Roulin (an animated Chris O’Dowd sporting a huge brown beard) who had kept a letter from Vincent which he had written to his brother Theo.

In respect of the situation, Joseph thinks that the letter needs to be hand delivered to Theo and asks his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to take the letter on his behalf. Joseph is also suspicious that days before his death, Vincent was reportedly happy so why would he take his own life?
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Armand (Douglas Booth) and Joseph (Chris O'Dowd)

Armand becomes our protagonist and we latch on to his journey. Tragically he gets news of the fact that Vincent’s brother Theo died 6-months after the painter’s death. Rather than just giving up, he becomes intrigued with this man and decides to find out more about his last days and visits the town of Auvers in France, where Vincent made an impact on the lives of many of the townsfolk.

Armand, notifies his employers that he will be gone for a while and he sets about his investigation to find out the truth and as he gets deeper into his enquiries, he starts to wonder if foul play is at hand!

On his quest, he meets various people who knew Vincent well. Some of them were friends and some not so friendly. They included Dr.Gachet (Jerome Flynn) who became close friends with him and looked after Vincent following his injury. Marguerite Gachet (Saoirse Ronan) the Doctor’s daughter who admired Vincent, Adeline Ravoux (Eleanor Tomlinson) the friendly Innkeepers daughter where Vincent stayed, the Boatman (Aidan Turner), the art supplier Pere Tanguy (John Sessions) and Louise Chevalier (Helen McCrory) the Doctor’s housemaid who thinks Vincent is evil.
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Louise Chevalier (Helen McCrory) Bringing the magic to life

All the people that appear in the film, have all been painted by Vincent at one time or other. The directors Dorata Kobiela and Hugh Welchman tried to get the actors to be dead ringers for the real-life characters.

The film is also a labour of love with over 120 artists being commissioned to hand paint over 65,000 frames in the style of van Gogh and bring the subjects to life.

It was also quite fun to guess the animated actor under the anguished strokes of the pallet knife as Vincent would have used.
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Jerome Flynn              The real Dr.Gachet     The finished article

Be sure to stay for the end credits as in storybook fashion you see each actor in costume and then as a painted animated character and their likeness of the real person in the actual Vincent van Gogh painting.

The sad thing is that Vincent hardly made a penny from his paintings when he was alive. While a few years ago a painting of Doctor Gachet, sold for $83 million in New York.

4 out of 5 stars

In cinemas October 13

Running time: 91 mins

“If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced” Vincent van Gogh

Don McLean - Vincent Starry Starry Night