In a story depicted in oil painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist's final letter and ends up investigating his final days there.
Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.
A year after the death of the artist, Vincent van Gogh, Postman Roulin gets his slacker son, Armand, to hand deliver the artist's final letter written to his now late brother, Theo, to some worthy recipient after multiple failed postal delivery attempts. Although disdainful of this seemingly pointless chore, Armand travels to Auvers-sur-Oise where a purported close companion to Vincent, Dr. Gachet, lives. Having to wait until the doctor returns from business, Armand meets many of the people of that village who not only knew Vincent, but were apparently also models and inspirations for his art. In doing so, Armond becomes increasingly fascinated in the psyche and fate of Van Gogh as numerous suspicious details fail to add up. However, as Armond digs further, he comes to realize that Vincent's troubled life is as much a matter of interpretation as his paintings and there are no easy answers for a man whose work and tragedy would only be truly appreciated in the future. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is a must-see film for any Van Gogh fanatic or indeed, anyone who is passionate about art. It is innovative and visually striking, and the loving time and attention that has been devoted to the art is clear and obvious throughout.
The story itself is not to be repeated here and many people know or believe that they know the Van Gogh story (thanks to his numerous letters he is one of the great artists that we can claim to have a deeper insight into).
Where the film struggles is the plot. First of all it's a retelling of a story that many people know. It's clear that the premise was wanting to use the art in a particular way - but actually the story line, the plot, is the secondary consideration.
I question how historically accurate the presentation of this story actually is. I would really like to know how they could reference the tensions that exist between different characters and the presentation of different figures. Are they real or imagined for narrative purpose?
I get the feeling that the writers wanted to express the dichotomy of Van Gogh - the gentle, perceptive, altruistic man, and also the fiery, troubled, confrontational, argumentative soul. So do they project these perceptions upon their characters - or are these positions anchored in truth?
The movement of the film is actually quite slow. I would say that someone who didn't have a specific love of Van Gogh might consider it to be slow and uneventful.
Of course the outcome is inevitable and tragic - so the air of melancholy hangs over the whole presentation. It would have been more of an achievement to actually present the joy that must have been present (at least at times) in the soul of this great genius. This doesn't come across because the film is saturated in sorrow.
The dialogue is basic and doesn't ever challenge the actors - but the presentation is fine, and at times very good (Chris O'Dowd is my outstanding actor in this film).
Bottom line is that this film is saved by the unique presentation - had it been a 'straight forward' film acted in a standard format, it wouldn't have got made, it would be too bland. It would be somewhere between documentary and biography and a little bit dry at that (not for cinema anyway).
As it happens, I'm a huge admirer of Van Gogh and I have taken enough interest in him to watch several documentaries and to read a number of accounts of his life. For me this was well worth the wait - and if you're in the same boat you will enjoy it too. If you're not that interested in Van Gogh as an individual you might not get the same kick out of it. It is definitely for a very particular audience.
38 of 53 people found this review helpful.
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