I saw the little girl and her mother standing in front of Van Gogh’s, Portrait of a Peasant, at the Norton Simon Museum of Art. Looking up at her mom the girl flat out said, “I don’t like it.” Shocked, her mom proceeded to tell her what a famous painting it is, painted by a famous artist!, and that she “should” like it. Observing this scene I thought, If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it! We are allowed to not like some art, even if told we should. I liked, and didn’t like, the new movie Loving Vincent, even though critics say I should love it.
What I liked: Loving Vincent is the first fully painted feature film, taking 6 years to make. Over 100 artists hand-painted more than 65,000 frames in Vincent Van Gogh’s “impasto” style. Being an artist, watching the film was a little exhausting, knowing the work each frame took. But once I let my childlike wonder take over, it was thrilling to enter Van Gogh’s world. When The Starry Night swirled onto the screen and we swoop down into the painting and onto the street in front of Café Terrace at Night, it was absolutely magical.
What I didn’t like: The movie takes many of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings and ties them together through a storyline. This is where it fell short. Loving Vincent is a whodunit and begins in 1891, a year after Van Gogh’s death. The gist is, did he die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, or did someone else shoot him? Maybe it was partly due to the glass of red wine I drank in the theater, but 30 minutes into the 1 hour 35 minute movie I got very sleepy. (My fiancé started snoring!) I’ve read that at some theaters the movie received a standing ovation. (My fiancé says they were probably just happy it was over!) That said, I will definitely buy the movie when available. I will thoroughly enjoy playing it on my large-screen TV, with the sound off. As an art lover, the visuals of Van Gogh’s paintings coming to life and pulsating on the screen is more than enough entertainment!
Van Gogh only sold 1 painting in his life, but paintings from Loving Vincent are selling for several thousand dollars! (Check out LOVINGVINCENT.COM) There is also an exhibit of 119 paintings from the movie at Het Noordbrabants Museum in the Netherlands. While I selfishly wish the movie focused less on Van Gogh’s troubled life, and more on his obsession to express himself through painting, and his phenomenal legacy, Loving Vincent is definitely a groundbreaking movie worth seeing.
The Starry Night 1889
Café Terrace at Night 1888
Artists working on paintings for the movie.
Père Tanguy 1887 (My favorite painting featured in the movie.)