Director Jem Cohen is perhaps best known for his work with musicians including Patti Smith, REM, Fugazi and Godspeed You Black Emperor!. In the evocative feature 'Museum Hours', he turns his focus on the lavish world of art history, while exploring an intimate friendship between a Viennese museum attendant and a Canadian visitor.
We are introduced to Vienna’s majestic Kunsthistorisches Art Museum through Johann (Bobby Somner), an experienced gallery attendant, who happily spends his hours examining the myriad of art pieces on offer. Johann meets a Canadian woman, Anne (Mary Margaret O'Hara), at the museum - who is visiting Vienna (and indeed Europe) for the first time, as her cousin has been taken ill.
The duo strike up a friendship - Anne obviously eager for company and guidance and Johann more than happy to share his knowledge of Vienna, while rediscovering the city himself. 'Museum Hours' reflects on their retrospective lives, the art on offer, and Vienna itself, in a restrained yet easygoing fashion - minus some forced moments such as a scene involving nude museum visitors.
'Museum Hours' is a rather pleasant film but never goes on a journey of any real depth. While the central performances are excellent, and the film thankfully avoids typical relationship clichés, the duo's friendship perhaps falls a little too serenely. 'Museum Hours' is perhaps at its best when its documentary style showcases Vienna in a wonderfully intriguing light, with particular deference to the incredibly vivid Kunsthistorisches Art Museum.
'Museum Hours' screened at the 56th BFI London Film Festival. UK release to be confirmed.