In his 6.18.17 Variety review, Peter Debruge noted that Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman‘s Loving Vincent (BreakThru/Trademark, 9.22) “boasts the distinction of being ‘the world’s first fully painted feature film.’

“That means every one of the nearly 65,000 frames in this near-lunatic labor of love (it took seven years to complete) was rendered by hand with oil paints, following a style intended to mimic that of the master. [It] has precisely the effect you might imagine, pulling audiences into the delirious, hyper-sensual world suggested by van Gogh’s oeuvre.

“As lovely as the animated-painting technique is to behold, the approach involves a kind of rotoscoping (where the frames are painted over live-action footage — a variation on the way Richard Linklater tackled Waking Life). Although this technique isn’t ‘cheating’ per se, it shackles the crew of 120-odd oil painters to what the camera sees, functioning as a kind of high-end PhotoShop filter as the individual artists are tasked with applying a van Gogh-like impasto to the underlying reference footage.

“With any luck, audiences won’t dwell on the particulars of how the effect was achieved, concentrating instead on the content of the story, which brings a poetic sense of tragedy to the last act of van Gogh’s life, and fresh insight into the kind of man he was.

Loving Vincent may exist as a showcase for its technique, but it’s the sensitivity the film shows toward its subject that ultimately distinguishes this particular oeuvre from the countless bad copies that already litter the world’s flea markets. To the extent that van Gogh’s style permitted him to capture a deeper sense of truth, he makes a noble model for the filmmakers to follow.”

Wells interjection #1: I haven’t turned on since the mid ’70s and I certainly would’t touch LSD with a ten-foot pole today, but I used to be a kind of Lieutenant Trips. (Just as avid as guys like Cary Grant, Ken Kesey and Jerry Garcia , but well below their cultural station.) But if I was still a psychedelic adventurer, I would seriously consider dropping before seeing Loving Vincent.

Wells interjection #2: I can’t wait to see Loving Vincent, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that 21st Century technology is unfairly catching up with Kobiela’s feat. Right now there are online apps that do a half-assed job of converting iPhone pics into Van Gogh-like paintings. It’s conceivable that within a few years an app will be able to convert videos into something resembling Loving Vincent.