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  • Colin Fraser


THREE AND A HALF STARS A young man investigates the untimely death of Vincent Van Gough.


Did you ever wonder what really drove Vincent Van Gough to slice off his own ear before an untimely death? Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman clearly did, and the result of their musings is this quite extraordinary film, the first fully painted animated feature. It’s the most beautiful of homages, with over 100 artists taking their queues from Van Gogh’s celebrated style; together they create an immersive vision that pulls you right through the canvas to see the world as Vincent saw it. Once you get used to the initial discombobulation, it’s rather fun.

The story, less so. On hearing of Vincent’s death, a postman friend dispatches his son with a letter for the painter’s brother. Tracking him down, the lad becomes embroiled in Vincent’s final days and convinces himself that there’s more to his sudden death than meets the eye. There’s not of course, and this line of narrative feels more gimmick than one that reveals any lasting conspiracy on behalf of the villager's encountered. Nonetheless, it gives reason to mesh Van Gogh’s paintings with the environment he painted in, and to flesh out the known back-story.

Of itself, the mundane story is not a good reason to watch the film, but ultimately that’s not really an issue. Any gripes are soon forgotten among the stunningly visceral work of the film’s animators: their dazzling style forces you to see the world afresh. As Kobiela and Welchman breath new life into Van Gogh’s startling gift, every painstaking frame (itself a painting) reveals honest, heartfelt endeavour that doesn’t fail to impress, inspire and charm. After all, what’s not to love about Vincent?


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