[FOUR DAYS ONLY] Museum Hours might be Jem Cohen’s first narrative feature, but it nonetheless carries shades of his career as documentarian: Cohen set up his cameras unobtrusively in an art museum in Vienna, so his fictional characters must interact with a living world. Indeed, even his characters seem less like performers than like lonely people caught at moments of extreme vulnerability. Non-actor Bobby Sommer plays a museum security guard who befriends a Canadian woman (musician Mary Margaret O’Hara) stranded in Vienna by a friend’s illness; Cohen uses the protagonists’ unusual bond to explore our intense relationship with art and its role as balm, company and incitement. Cohen's patience and diffuse narration lead to what is perhaps a false sense of calm: This film is an intense experience, a meditation on consuming loneliness and the solace of history. Sommer’s security guard, assuming himself invisible, spends idle time searching for eggs in paintings. Of the other guards, he says, “Some have been in the museum so long that it is difficult to say what they have done with their minds.” The initial story submerges by the end of the film, and we are left simply with naked humanity (literally, in one scene), sadly and searchingly at sea in a world that is always beautiful.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
- Critic's Score: A-
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