Year:  2019

Director:  Oeke Hoogendijk

Rated:  All Ages

Release:  December 9 - 20, 2020

Running time: 97 minutes

Worth: $15.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Jan Six, Thomas Kaplan, Ernst Van de Wetering

...a gorgeous film with an array of funny, immensely watchable characters...

My Rembrandt is a fascinating documentary about the first discovery in decades of a painting from the Dutch master. The director, Oeke Hoogendijk, has form in this field. Her films The New Rijksmuseum and Marten & Oopjen: Portrait of a Marriage deal with Dutch art in general, the latter delving deeper into one thread from My Rembrandt. And here’s where the film suffers – the central storyline involving art dealer Jan Six and his ‘new’ find is shunted to the margins at times, the film showing us the admittedly beautiful Scottish landholding of the Duke of Buccleuch or the glitzy world of American collector, Thomas Kaplan. The aforementioned Marten & Oopjen paintings are also clearly additions from another film, as is the wrangle between the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum over their purchase. These deviations add colour to the story and flesh out the world of Rembrandt devotees, but they’re just that – deviations.

Jan Six is a descendant of another Jan Six, subject of one of Rembrandt’s most famous works. Flicking through a Christies catalogue, he happens upon a painting that states it is from the ‘circle’ of Rembrandt (ie. from one of his disciples). Six realises that this is too good to be an inspired work and gambles on the purchase. The following attempts to have ‘Portrait of a Young Gentleman’ authenticated, and thus validate Six himself, make up the body of the film.

Six comes across as a man trying to prove to his father, and the art world perhaps, that he is not just the scion of an important, respected family. His scenes with Six Senior are really the meat of the film. They’re full of tenderness, yet also irritation and a kind of child-like quest for endorsement.

The film begins with two fellow dealers visiting Six and being shown a Rembrandt that is probably not all that it seems to be. The decision is made to restore this work and it is handed over to an expert. This set-up is neatly paid off at the end of the film where the expert is revealed to be the father of a dealer who accuses Six of nefarious goings-on relating to the purchase of ‘Portrait of a Young Gentleman’. Another expert, Ernst Van de Wetering, who had previously verified the discovery as a legitimate Rembrandt, is also caught up in the intrigue. Six and Van de Wetering appear on Dutch TV talk shows and eventually become irreparably estranged. This angle of losing a mentor, perhaps another father figure, is not explored as thoroughly as it could have been, and it feels like an opportunity missed.

Hoogendijk has made a gorgeous film with an array of funny, immensely watchable characters. The close-ups of the artworks alone are worth the ticket price. It’s just a shame the story drifted away occasionally and wasn’t more focused on Six and his efforts to prove himself.


Leave a Reply