Museum Hours has a title that turns you to stone.
The reality is a far, far better thing. This is docudrama at its most personal.
Expect nothing, feel generous and let the meaning wash over you.
The experience leaves traces of humility amongst the detritus of a script that appears to have been made from found objects. If there is a story, it shelters within a cocoon. Ask not where this is going; ask only that the journey fulfills the promise of beauty and art.
Johan (Bobby Sommer) works two days a week in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, which contains a superb collection of paintings and sculptures.
He is one of those quietly efficient security guards who are there to help the public and protect the exhibits.
They are the ghosts of the gallery and no one suspects they have a life.
And yet Johan is a man of considerable interest whose polite persona contains mementoes of youthful rebellion (“I have a soft spot for heavy metal”). His friendship with Anne (Mary Margaret O’Hara), a visitor from Montreal, is at the core of writer/director Jem Cohen’s celebration of place and time and the imagination.
He contrasts pigeons in the snow, crows perched on spires, the faces of ordinary people, the city itself, both old and new, with details from the paintings and objects Johan looks after in the museum. The result has an inexplicable beauty, an understandng of creative energy and how it effects every aspect of life.
Cohen would never make such a claim. He avoids cliches and pretentious statements of intent. The simplicity of his endeavour is its great strength.
This film mixes colour with kindness to celebrate hope.