When a Vienna museum guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads that sparks explorations of their lives, the city, and the ways in which works of art reflect and shape the world.
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In the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, Johann is a security guard who finds a special quiet magic there. One day, a Canadian woman arrives to visit to the city, and the two strike up a friendship through their appreciation of art. That relationship helps put all the other goings-on at the museum and in the city in perspective, as Johann observes and participates in them in a world where art can say so much more than a casual visitor might know. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
This film primarily made me kick myself for never having visited the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum the two times I was in Vienna (shame on me). In between kicking myself, I enjoyed the focus on Bruegel's paintings and the museum interior. I even enjoyed the potted plant scene with the guest lecturer explaining the paintings. The images of Vienna were beautifully rendered, and made for such a contrast with the usual posh images we associate with Vienna (which certainly was the point, or one of the points). So, this was a Vienna with which I as a former tourist was unfamiliar--well done, the film shook me out of my longings for tourist Vienna, sachertorte, and waltzes. But oh, if the film had only stuck with the inner life of the museum and the museum guard, his isolation, his anonymity, and his dedication to the museum and its great works of art. . . what a much richer viewing experience, at least for me. From the first scene introducing Anne with her cousin in a coma (oh dear), I felt my interest challenged. She seemed to me a completely unnecessary and irksome character, always in need of something . . . money, directions, companionship, whatever. The friendship with the museum guard was so dimly lit for me, their escape into the surrounding area a distraction, the scenes in the hospital a chore. Perhaps this was the intent, but I don't think so. I would much have preferred to explore the museum guard and his existence. Or another museum guard, maybe one in the next room, a guard with a family and happy home life to which the solitary Johann has neither access nor invitation. Or perhaps more Bruegel paintings. Or any of the other paintings.
This film would make an interesting pairing with The Mill and the Cross (2011), which I admit I could not make it through for reasons outside of this review. The DVD of Museum Hours comes with a very nice pamphlet explaining the genesis of the film, and its inclusion was a nice surprise. Overall, this is a film worth watching, but not one to get excited about.
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