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Soundtrack review: Loving Vincent (Clint Mansell – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Loving Vincent (Clint Mansell – 2017)


“Loving Vincent” is a 2017 biographical animated film. It is the first fully painted animated film. It tells the story of painter Vincent van Gogh. It is written and directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, and is being produced by Hugh Welchman and Sean Bobbitt of BreakThru Films and Ivan Mactaggart of Trademark Films. The development was funded by the Polish Film Institute, and re-training of professional oil painters to become painting-animators on the film was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign. It sounds like a fascinating project and I will watch it, especially since I have studied and read a lot about Van Gogh’s life. The score was written by a composer to match, Clint Mansell.

Clint Mansell has always been one of the most exciting composers for me to listen to, reaching incredibly affecting peaks like “Requiem for a dream” in his career and also knowing when to be emotional without being insane. The opening theme “The night cafe” is a beautiful and troubled duet between the strings and the piano; the fairy tale like choral section at the end only makes the cue sound even more etherial. There is sadness and fervour in the music and I always like a layered composition like this one.

I hear traces of “Noah” in this score; somehow this makes sense since both characters, Noah and Vicent Van Gogh were troubled and determined men who stuck by their ideas and passions no matter what happened in the outside world. Clint Mansell uses the same kind of stormy string section in “The yellow house” that made “Noah” such a fascinating score. “Loving Vincent” doesn’t have the same relentless fury but I can almost see the pouring rain and flood here as well.

Each cue takes its title from a famous Van Gogh painting. The music is very fit to art, to beautiful art as it uses lively tones and warm colours to express emotions. It’s a permanent back and forth between strings and piano and each instrument gets its turn to be in the centre of a cue. I like the sudden burst of energy like the end of “Portrait of Armand Roulin”. The soundscape of “Loving Vincent” is not very varied but it changes tone from determination to melancholy; “Marguerite Gachet at the piano” is my favourite piece from the score as it’s the most emotional and the strings here evoke an unquenched melancholy.

“Loving Vincent” is a much more laid back and romantic score than Clint Mansell usually writes; it shows a new and just as valuable side of this composer who could have very easily written turmoil like he knows so well but chose to focus on the beautiful creative side of the painter. There are moments of angst like “Thatched roofs in Chaponval” but the are rare. The cues are long and robust and the composer wrote the kind of music that can be enjoyed while admiring Van Gogh’s paintings or even when admiring real life scenes that mirror the ones he put on the canvas; I can see myself listening to this score while walking through an endless field. I can see myself listening to this score again.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 46

Album excellence: 33%

The Night Café
The Yellow House
Marguerite Gachet At The Piano
The Painter On His Way To Work On The Road To Tarascon
Blossoming Chestnut Trees
The Sower With Setting Sun
Starry Night Over The Rhone

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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