Close to Vermeer (2023)

Close to Vermeer (2023)

A fascinating peek into the art world, and a tribute to the pursuit of beauty

7.5

Movie

Netherlands
Dutch, English, German
Documentary, History
2023
FEMALE DIRECTOR, SUZANNE RAES
Abbie Vandivere, Anna Krekeler, Gregor J. M. Weber
77 min

TLDR

Turns out that watching paint dry is actually really emotionally satisfying.

What it's about

In preparation for the largest exhibition of works by enigmatic Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, several art experts study the pieces and try to unlock their mysteries.

The take

Less a documentary on Johannes Vermeer himself and more about the art scholar's mission to study ideas of beauty and aesthetics from various perspectives, this documentary successfully takes an admittedly very esoteric subject and makes it compelling. Director Suzanne Raes easily gets to the essence of the complex questions and insights that these Vermeer experts have, but without dumbing them down or reducing them into generic academic talking points. In fact, the thing that really comes through in the film's discussions is the emotion that these people feel in figuring out how Vermeer managed to paint such stunning images, and what the man was drawn to in human beings. It's oddly persuasive; whether or not you're a fan of 17th-century artists, watching Close to Vermeer feels like finally solving a puzzle.

What stands out

Raes' best technique in her director's bag is when she gives us the time and the quiet to observe some of Vermeer's works on our own. After hearing some of the experts discuss specific pieces, Raes gives us our turn to interpret things for ourselves, but without holding our hand. It's these serene moments, where she allows us to be alone in a room with Vermeer (something that most of us are likely never going to be able to do in our lifetimes), that show how much Raes respects her audience and how strongly she believes that great art can truly speak for itself, whether or not we feel we have the knowledge to "get" it.

Comments

Add a comment

Your name

Your comment

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

Brats (2024)

A member of the Brat Pack confronts his troubled past in this confessional, borderline indulgent documentary

6.8

Rain (2019)

A girl finds true love in this unusual, marvelous, rain-soaked coming-of-age drama

8.1

Lilies (1996)

A passionate, underseen queer gem where a confession transforms into a memory play

7.5

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

A star-studded and riveting legal drama with a blockbuster feel.

8.1

Stand and Deliver (1988)

An inspirational, if a bit embellished, depiction of a maverick math teacher

7.4

Law of Desire (1987)

Pedro Almodóvar solidified his vision of desire in this campy and chaotic LGBT melodrama

7.6

The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)

A rare and thoughtful depiction of one of India’s freedom fighters

7.0

For the Love of Spock (2016)

The long and prosperous life Leonard Nimoy lived along with the legendary sci-fi icon he portrayed

7.4

North Sea Texas (2011)

Boys fall in love in this simple seaside coming-of-age drama

7.0

Two of Us (2020)

A refreshingly gripping romantic drama where a retiree does everything to stay by her lover’s side

7.2

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.