The Last Vermeer

By Joanna Langfield

Guy Pierce. That’s it. That’s the story.

Well, of course, not really. The actual plot of this, based on a true story, film is one of a soldier tasked to find and return stolen art in the days after World War II. George Clooney tackled a similar tale in The Monuments Men and, watching this comfy but uneven effort, I couldn’t help but wonder, if somehow the two films were combined and George Clooney co-starred here with Guy Pierce… ah well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

What we actually have is a handsome and sturdy Claes Bang, as Joseph Pillar, a Jewish Captain continuing the war effort in Amsterdam, assigned to reunite art stolen by the Nazis with its rightful owners. All roads seem to lead to one man, a flamboyant and wealthy painter who may or may not know the story behind a newly discovered canvas by the artist Vermeer.

Fitting snugly onto a home screen, Dan Friedkin’s respectful retelling informs and keeps us moderately entertained doing so. And then Guy Pierce shows up, stealing the whole shebang as the flamboyant painter Han Van Meegeren. A frustrated self proclaimed genius, Han managed to live through the occupation by cozying up to not just the Nazis, as well as with some of those who cooperated. His understanding of the art scene during that time may be key, but it’s his chameleon like adaptation that didn’t just save his life, but also helped make him a Dutch legend. It’s a joy watching Pierce go for it here, having maybe more of a kick that he’s had on screen since The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. His performance is smart, calculated and delicious and certainly makes this dramatic tale a whole lot more fun.