Biopics are largely affiliated with perfunctory, artless play-by-plays of famous people’s lives — and impressionistic exceptions like Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There truly stand out. Perhaps even that’ll look under-stylized, though, compared to an upcoming, (post)-impressionistic exception: the Vincent Van Gogh biopic, Loving Vincent, is an entirely oil paint-animated feature, evoking the artist’s style to tell his story, with the help of 125 artists contributing to the film’s 65,000 painted frames. The film, which opens stateside on September 22, now has a trailer, which you can watch below.
Loving Vincent hails from directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, who spent seven years getting it made. Chris O’Dowd and Saorise Ronan are among the contributing voice actors (and you’ll notice a character who looks exactly like an oil painted Ronan here.)
In a Hollywood Reporter review from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Jordan Mintzer wrote:
While [other Van Gogh biopics] attempted to portray the painter through his actions and words, none have quite been able to reveal the man through his work. Such is the unique feat of Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s hand-painted biopic Loving Vincent, a film that uses van Gogh’s canvases as both form and function, animating them into a saga tracing his last days in Arles, where he made his greatest artist breakthroughs, to his stay in Auvers-sur-Oise, where he died in 1890 after shooting himself in the torso.
The story itself apparently (literally) paints Van Gogh’s cause-disputed death as a murder mystery of sorts, narrated by Van Gogh’s subject Armand Roulin.
Watch the trailer:
Incidentally, another likely-to-be-very-painterly Van Gogh film is in the works from painter/director Julian Schnabel, and is set to star Willem Dafoe as the artist. (While in many ways that sounds like perfect casting, it kind of sounds like perfect casting 25 years ago: Van Gogh died at 37, and Dafoe, while strapping, is 62…so we’ll see how they deal with that.)