The many marvels of the artistic world are ones to quite simply be in awe of, even to the point that even science has a difficulty explaining them. “Tim’s Vermeer” is an interesting but all be it overly analytical look at an amateur art enthusiast dissection of the techniques of one of the modern age’s more revered painters.
From Director Teller of Penn and Teller fame, and narrated by Penn himself, “Tim’s Vermeer” tracks the story of inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the photorealistic painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.
A very engaging film, “Tim’s Vermeer” is a really good look at the genuine art of creative genius and craft that inspires debate among scholars and appreciators alike. While the Penn & Teller duo have tried their hands at a variety of different projects, this their first trip into documentary film making plays as a thrilling explanation into the dissection of a master painter.
Much like their stage show, it shows so much and goes into the how of these paintings but leaves us without the why, it is still only a genuine glimpse into how Vermeer made these photorealistic paintings. Tim Jenison as a subject makes for an affable and fascinating guy to follow around, as his own obsession with Vermeer’s work does allow for us to get inside the psyche of an individual who manages these leaps between science and creativity. Jenison humanizes the obsession as we see that desire to discover and explore things that are seemingly unknowable or unattainable, and it makes him the type of subject that you want to follow Teller keeps it moving at a very healthy clip until the very end of the film when we see that as close as Jensen may have got through all his research and experiments, he really hasn’t cracked the secret nearly as much as he would have liked. Teller brings up noted scholars and conspiracy theorists from the likes of painter David Hockney and professor of architecture Philip Steadman to add some question marks and bring some flavour to the debate, they do succeed in at least partially debunking the methods of Vermeer it still leaves a great deal wide out in the open.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are first rate and the special features include a feature length commentary track with Teller, Tim Jenison, Penn Jillette and producer Farley Ziegler, deleted/extended and alternate scenes and the Q&A from the Toronto International Film Festival.
However that is really the genuine debate behind it all, “Tim’s Vermeer” is not a film that is meant to give a solution or solve anything but what it does do rather successfully is open up the discussion behind it all. The point isn’t the method behind this painstaking craft but the obsession in the fact that someone actually figured out a way to do it long before it should have been technically possible.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Tim’s Vermeer” is now available on DVD & Blu-Ray from all major providers and retailers.