Museum Hours Sep12

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Museum Hours

The new drama from Austria, Museum Hours is aptly named for several reasons.

museumhours1It is a beautiful piece of filmmaking that embodies the same relaxing calm you find in art. It’s quiet and casual dialogue is like a walk through a gallery of color and solitude. Yet it has bold moments that pop with expression and emotion. I must see for those who appreciate the art of filmmaking and the ability of actors to deliver personable performances.

Johann (Bobby Sommer) has worked for six years as a security guard at the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna. He is fond of the quiet and the people. He has an interesting perspective on art and life that he shares with the viewers in voiceover narrative. When he meets a Canadian woman (Mary Margaret O’Hara) who is on Vienna visiting a sick relative he becomes a tour guide for her. As he shows her around he rediscovers the wonders of the beautiful city. They form a bond of friendship that is meaningful and perfectly penned.

Sommer has a soft, pleasing voice that adds to the serenity of the film. As he talks about art, his past life, and the wonders of Vienna you often feel as if you are on tour yourself. Director Jem Cohen spends much time showing us the paintings and sculptures of the museum. Often you forget you are watching a fictional movie and feel more like you have your own private lecture of paintings and painters. The film never gets in a hurry and there are times when several minutes have passed with nothing being said; just a lingering camera scanning the sights and sounds of the museum pieces and the city.

This is a film that art lovers will love just as much as film addicts. It feels like a wonderful homage to art and Museums. Cohen treats the subject with respect and uses it as a wonderful backdrop to this warm friendship we see play out. The film is in German and English with English subtitles. Again, Sommer’s rich voice captures the language nicely and the subtitles are never distracting. Museum Hours is unrated but suited for adult audiences. The pace and dialogue would be brutal for children to endure. There are also nude images and some discussion of those elements in art. It is never crude or offensive though. I give the movie 4 out of 5 velvet ropes. Certainly geared toward the art house movie goers and if you could never imagine yourself enjoying the day at the museum then you may want to pass. All others will find it touching and relaxing.

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