Johannes Vermeer was a 17th century Dutch painter who became known as an artist who specialized in creating paintings that depicted the middle-class Dutch in vivid and beautiful detail. Little is known about Vermeer’s actual life and behaviors but his work, most notably the painting titled ‘The Music Lesson’ which took him three years to create (1662-1665), has had devoted fans that continued to be fascinated by his many unique works of art. One such man is inventor Tim Jenison, who is the subject of the unique and wonderful documentary Tim’s Vermeer.
Tim’s Vermeer is directed by Teller, from the famed Penn and Teller entertainment duo, and talks about Tim Jenison’s pursuit to discover what Johannes Vermeer’s painting techniques were and whether he used any sort of technological gadgets in that pursuit. The documentary runs for one hour and twenty minutes.
What makes Tim’s Vermeer, I believe, such an engrossing and gripping viewing experience is Tim Jenison himself. He is a man in his 50s or 60s who has become wealthy after developing a 3D engine used by and licensed to multiple industries. This has given him the time to delve deeper into his interests, chiefly his love of Vermeer paintings. He becomes extremely curious to discover how Vermeer has developed his works of art as they all seem to be realistic photos, rather than paintings. His journey takes almost four years and is filled with multiple twists and turns that enrich this documentary and makes it hard for the audience to look away. I should also mention that Penn and Teller do a formidable job directing and editing this motion picture as they let Tim Jenison take center stage and never look to take the spotlight themselves, which is something that poorer documentaries suffer from.
I must confess that I am not an expert when it comes to fine arts and its history. However, Tim’s Vermeer is so well done that it manages to grab my interest from the very first frame and keep me invested throughout its runtime. Tim Jenison is a funny man with an odd sense of humour that resonates with audiences in a way that makes them as eager to find out the truth about Vermeer’s paintings as Tim himself. Tim’s Vermeer is basically a documentary chronicling a man with a weird hobby that overtakes his life for four years, taking a toll on him mentally and physically. But, it is Tim’s positivity, perseverance, and focus that ensures he reaches his goal, which seemed so far away at the start. Tim’s Vermeer is a wonderful and heartfelt documentary that everyone should watch, and will surely enjoy.
MATM Rating: ***1/2 out of ****
1 hour and 20 minutes