Duration: 1 Hr 15 Mins
Director: Dan Friedkin
Writers: John Orloff, James McGee, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby
Based on: The Man Who Made Vermeers; by Jonathan Lopez
Producers: Ryan Friedkin, Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Vijay Waghmare
Release Date: August 31, 2019 (Telluride), November 20, 2020 (United States)
Releasing: In Theatres
Star Cast: Guy Pearce, Claes Bang, Vicky Krieps, Roland Møller, August Diehl, Olivia Grant, Adrian Scarborough, Andrew Havill, Karl Johnson, Daan Aufenacker, Matt Beauman-Jones, Mark Behan, Paul Bentall, Daniël Brongers, Witold Brzoska,
Kim Chapman, Richard Curtis, Peter Dawson, Truus de Boer, Guido Den Broeder, Richard Dillane, Susannah Doyle, Jason Farries, Ria Fend, Allard Geerlings, Diane Halling, Marie Bach Hansen, Cameron Jack, Zander James, Rick Kuitems, Katarina Martin, Martyn Mayger, Tom Mulheron, Jamie Newall, Simon Paisley Day, Levi Penris, Oliver Ryan, Bernardo Santos, Vera Schröder, Joakim Skarli, Steve Such, Houssam Tahtah, Jeroen van Spanje, Nick Vorsselman, Frédérique Welie, Stuart Whelan, Mark Winstanley, Jennifer Catford, Tom Dab, Andrew G. Ogleby, Yvonne Sharada Priya
Plot: Set in Amsterdam just weeks after the end of World War II - ‘The Last Vermeer’ tells the engaging true story of the Dutch painter, bon vivant, and art forger Han van Meegeren. It is a tale of the mystery of Art Fraud, and the weeding out of Nazi collaboration at the end of the war.
Review: Just when you think every interesting story about World War II has been told and retold, here comes another. However, some real-life stories seem made for the movies, yet resist being bent into cinematic shape, and ‘The Last Vermeer’ is one among those!
Dan Friedkin’s film unfolds like a typical crime film, one studded with flashbacks and exposition. It details the post-World War II investigation of Han van Meergren, the most successful art forger of all time - specifically, his alleged reproduction of Johannes Vermeer’s art and consequent selling of it to the Nazi elite.
When these sorts of tales get discovered and exposed, it adds to our world knowledge, educates us on how truly ingenious and creative some criminals can be, and displays how even the best of us can be taken for a ride. But here in this film, the facts are unnecessarily juiced up for the screen by writers James McGee, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby that loosely adapts Jonathan Lopez’s book ‘The Man Who Made Vermeers.’
Unlike most war movies that rely on the use of battle scenes or flashbacks of gruesome images to relate the gravity of their story, this film utilizes only two individual scenes of execution, to get the seriousness of the narrative across, and it is striking in the way that those images will stick with the viewers. However, it is only in the film’s final half-hour when ‘Vermeer’ turns into a more conventional courtroom drama.
This story could have worked great as a more straightforward character study. The problem is that it instead sets itself up as a mystery that takes way too long to get to the answers, which makes the whole thing interesting.
When it comes to performances, Guy Pearce who played the character of Van Meegeren steals the show with one of the greatest performances of his career. He almost eclipses the main performance of Claes Bang, who played the role of Joseph Piller.
However, the interrogations lack much in the way of dramatic spark, despite the strength of the actors.
The director has created a beautifully sumptuous recreation of the period and filled the screen with the waterways and small streets that make Amsterdam the charming city it is. But it won't be wrong to say that it is a technically well-produced film, but an extremely staid one.
Overall, ‘The Last Vermeer’ is clearly overflowing with ideas but gets bogged down by the fairly dull minutiae of the original mystery of the painting and its uninspired investigator. The end result is a film with a great deal of potential, but runs the risk of losing audiences before it hits its stride!