A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Loving Vincent is a murder mystery that follows the death of painter Vincent Van Gogh. It's animated in a unique style: It was reportedly entirely hand-painted, with more than 100 artists creating more than 60,000 frames over some seven years. The result is often breathtaking, and though the movie's mix of styles doesn't always click with its pulpy story, it's still recommended for art lovers. Expect discussions of murder, suicide, and gunshot wounds; there's also fighting, blood stains, and arguing. Language is infrequent, with a few uses of "d--k," "damn," "whore," etc. A sexually transmitted disease is mentioned, and a a scene includes sex in the background between a prostitute and her client (some noises heard). Characters drink often and heavily, leading to poor decisions and raging hangovers. Smoking is shown.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In LOVING VINCENT, famous painter Vincent Van Gogh has recently died, and the postmaster (voiced by Chris O'Dowd) has an undelivered letter for him. The postmaster sends his son, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), to find Van Gogh's brother Theo, but Armand discovers that Theo, too, has passed away. So the young man continues his travels, visiting Van Gogh's last-known haunts in France, to discover who is most deserving of receiving the letter. Armand interviews many of the people who knew or spoke with Van Gogh and hears many curiously conflicting stories. Some say that Van Gogh may have had a young lover, which complicates matters. And some say that, rather than having committed suicide -- as was the general perception -- the artist might have been murdered.
Is it any good?
Reportedly the first fully painted animated film in history, this seven-years-in-the-making effort is often breathtakingly beautiful. And, truth be told, if you're going to make a movie about Van Gogh, why not make it in beautiful paintings? Loving Vincent is based on the actual people who sat for Van Gogh's works, complete with their clothing and poses, and when the movie re-creates an actual portrait or a landscape, it's awe-inspiring.
But things get more troublesome when the movie includes dialogue between characters; the animation in these sequences is done with rotoscoping (similar to the technique used in Richard Linklater's Waking Life), and the style is less appealing -- it doesn't quite match. Not to mention that these end up being pretty basic scenes of two heads talking. And while the story works as a pulp mystery that's somewhat based on real events, it also feels a little slight for the incredible artistry that went into the filmmaking. That said, while its elements might not all click precisely into place, Loving Vincent is still a very entertaining and gorgeous movie, and it could inspire viewers to look further into Van Gogh's real-life output.
Talk to your kids about ...
How much violence is shown? Does it seem out of place, or does it contribute to the story?
Who was Vincent Van Gogh? What did you know about him before seeing this movie?
What's the effect of seeing "moving" paintings on screen? Do you think the end result was worth all that time and effort?
- In theaters: October 6, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: January 16, 2018
- Cast: Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan, Chris O'Dowd
- Directors: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
- Studio: Good Deed Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Arts and Dance
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic elements, some violence, sexual material and smoking
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.