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film review

Left to right: Roland Møller, Guy Pearce and Claes Bang in The Last Vermeer.Jack English/Mongrel Media

  • The Last Vermeer
  • Directed by Dan Friedkin
  • Written by James McGee, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on the book by Jonathan Lopez
  • Starring Claes Bang, Vicky Krieps and Guy Pearce
  • Classification R; 117 minutes


1.5 out of 4 stars

Appropriately for a film about art forgery, every cast member in The Last Vermeer seems to be attempting their best impression of someone else.

Guy Pearce, sporting a fantabulous moustache and Einstein-esque wig as Dutch forger and alleged Nazi collaborator Han van Meegeren, is channelling Johnny Depp by way of Hercule Poirot. Claes Bang, playing a self-described “Dutch Jew in a Canadian uniform” investigating war crimes, has got a serious Clive Owen thing going on. August Diehl, playing Bang’s government nemesis, is attempting a Christoph Waltz-y villain. And Phantom Thread’s Vicky Krieps, cast as Bang’s lovestruck assistant, gives a convincing performance as someone who desperately misses working with a real filmmaker like Paul Thomas Anderson.

Vicky Krieps gives a convincing performance as Minna Holmberg.Jack English/Mongrel Media

But matching the actors to their seeming inspirations is about as much entertainment as you’re going to get watching The Last Vermeer, a plodding and overwrought exercise in pseudo-prestige drama. Shot by first-time filmmaker (and billionaire car-dealership owner) Dan Friedkin as if the director had just, minutes before rolling camera, looked up the definition of “blocking,” the movie is Second World War drama by committee. Its plot twists are predictable, its characters thin and its script laden with expository dialogue (“You think you’re investigating art, but you’re really investigating money and power;” tell me more!).

Shed a few tears for Pearce, who is clearly giving it his all, albeit on a totally different wavelength than Friedkin. Otherwise rest soundly knowing that The Last Vermeer is a pale impersonation of a movie.

The Last Vermeer opens Nov. 20 in select Canadian theatres, dependent on local health restrictions

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