The Last Vermeer
Guy Pearce, Claes Bang, Vicky Krieps
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
banal and over-written, sometimes over-acted to the point of hamminess, plays a tad loosely with the facts and has an intrusive musical score in lieu of inherent atmosphere.
In recent years, we seem to have been inundated with movies about World War Two or its immediate aftermath. To a much lesser extent, there’s also been a surfeit of films about the world of fine art and the selling of it. This one combines both topics and therefore risks being doubly superfluous. That said, it’s based on a very interesting true story with substantial ethical themes.
Unfortunately, just naming the book (by Jonathan Lopez), which first told that story, would be to give away its most diverting revelation, and even without that, you’ll probably guess it fairly quickly if you go to see The Last Vermeer. And just to add to the shortcomings of this directorial debut from venture-capitalist and billionaire Dan Friedkin, it’s banal and over-written, sometimes over-acted to the point of hamminess, plays a tad loosely with the facts and has an intrusive musical score in lieu of inherent atmosphere. Oh, and the CGI that’s meant to portray a badly-damaged Amsterdam is unconvincing.
Paradoxically, Guy Pearce’s performance – as Dutch painter, art dealer and bon vivant Han Van Meegeren – is by far the most entertaining, despite being the hammiest of all. He gets the best lines too. Though there are numerous characters, the essential dynamic involves Van Meegeren and Captain Joseph Piller (Claes Bang), a former member of the Dutch resistance whose job it is to unravel the paper trail around the sale of a Vermeer masterpiece to Hermann Goering. (Why, incidentally, does Piller – a Dutch Jew – speak here with a South London accent?) The stakes are even higher than one might assume, given that it’s late May 1945 and former Nazi collaborators are being shot in the streets.
If you want to see a good film concerning the art world, you’d be much better advised to check out either The Square or The Burnt Orange Heresy – both of which, as it happens, also feature Claes Bang.