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SXSW 2013 Film Reviews: 'Museum Hours'

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Reviewed by Andy Campbell, Fri., March 15, 2013

SXSW Film

Museum Hours

SXGlobal, U.S. Premiere
D: Jem Cohen; with Mary Margaret O'Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits

Museum Hours unfolds like a gentle glacial dream. Director Jem Cohen asks his audience to slow down and observe the burgeoning relationship between a museum guard (Sommer) in Vienna's auratic Kunsthistorisches and a foreign visitor (O'Hara). What they have is neither friendship nor acquaintanceship, but something deeper. While the dapper Sommer provides a calming presence, O'Hara's acting is subtle, stormy, and finally, devastating. The wonder-inducing interlude is really a film within a film; a 10-minute segment wherein a museum tour guide (Piplits) gives plainspoken and insightful interpretations of Pieter Bruegel's paintings (and gets guff for all her careful looking). By film's end, where short clipped shots are described in voiceover as one might describe a painting hanging on a museum wall, the space between painted past and filmed present is satisfyingly collapsed. To paraphrase the words of one of Museum Hours' characters, it's time for "our share of quiet."

Saturday, March 16, 7:45pm, Alamo Ritz
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