Directed by Jem Cohen
There are two main characters, but to say that this movie's about them wouldn't quite be right. Instead, let's say it's about museums and cities, specifically the Kunsthistorisches and Vienna, about what role art can play in our lives, and about the passage of time—how we choose to fill it before we don't have anymore left. Mary Margaret O'Hara plays a Montréalaise who travels to Austria to visit a comatose cousin; broke, bored and lonely, she wanders the local art museum, where she meets a guard played by Bobby Sommer, and they slowly, gently, sweetly become friends.
Together, they wander the city—not picturesque tourist magnets but the "real city"—visit the hospital, eat dinner, and look at art wherever it may be: paintings, architecture, etc. It's an ambling film: one section muses about art's relationship to capitalism, followed by a segment chronicling the detritus of an outdoor market—a sort of People's Museum?—followed by a lecture on Bruegel. Writer-director Cohen and his cast and crew seem animated by an appreciation for, and curiosity about, art—how it relates to our own experience while expanding our understanding.
Better known for music videos and documentaries than such a relatively conventional narrative feature, Cohen fills the film with textural B-roll, cutaways to local color, people, places, objects, and especially close-ups of paintings and sculptures: flowers, faces, hands, often commenting on the scene's intellectual and emotional content. In the hospital scenes, Cohen and co-cinematographer Peter Röhsler transform medical equipment and machinery into things of beauty. In their hands, everything becomes art—aesthetically distinctive and freighted with meaning. Even quick shots of parked cars assume classical grandeur.
Opens June 28