The curious death of troubled painter Vincent Van Gogh (what sort of person commits suicide by shooting themselves in the stomach and then walking into town?) gets investigated — reluctantly at first, but with mounting interest and suspicion — by the son of the postman who used to handle his mail. (Van Gogh wrote to his brother and patron Theo nearly every day for years. Neither rain nor snow nor the deaths of both correspondents...) The structure results in a great many flashbacks, during which the film shifts from color to black and white, but what doesn’t change is the fact that every frame is also a painting — both the background and the rotoscoped actors. There’s lots of love (and loveliness) on display here: the color paintings are rendered after the manner of the modern master, and there’s a stubborn, even admirable refusal to either glamorize a suffering soul or demonize those who may have helped to seal his fate. But that refusal to re-imagine reality leads to a certain dampening of drama, and makes for some heavily pedagogical recollections. Van Gogh rendered ordinary life in extraordinary fashion; the film has rather the opposite effect, putting the remarkable visuals in the service of something less so.
Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes