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Parents' Guide to

The Last Vermeer

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Post-WWII drama paints intriguing but mature picture.

Movie R 2020 118 minutes
The Last Vermeer Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

Not great.

This is not for kids has a huge amount of smoked and bit of nudity so forth, film its self was just OK at best.

This title has:

Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 15+

The Last Vermeer - Did He or Didn't He?

This very good-looking production dares to take on several contentious issues. Such as the role of the Dutch resistance before and after the fall of the Reich, the level of collaboration within Dutch government (only hinted at here) and society. Also, the importance of art as a social and economic construct v/s the assessment of talent. Who decides which is more important when it comes to art, the government, the art dealers, historians, the people? Surely not the general public, the majority can’t afford town it, so it falls to who is left and what they want to achieve from the outcome – after all, every country strives for great writers and artists to lift their world standing. Here we have a unique story about a master art forger, Han van Meergeren, fundamentally a crook - who may have fooled the Nazis, or did he collaborate with them? It’s good to see such high production values being invested in a quality movie set in the aftermath of WW11. As in all ‘fact’ based movies, facts can be a movable feast but at least we see glimmers of situations being dealt with as they might have occurred during these times. Performances are also of high quality - even though perhaps, some may have been cast rather manipulatively IE; maybe those who are shown to have collaborated, being somewhat typecast on the weak side? Maybe they were but in movies, this can come across as a form of biased hate revenge. The courtroom scenes are well-staged and hold interest throughout and certainly cast doubt on the ability of art ‘experts’ to prove their claims. That said, it also raises the question of whether our art forger really is a hero, or just another opportunistic collaborator? Will we ever know? Several trials over many decades have followed, raising doubts over the authenticity of these ‘forgeries’, bringing into further question the claims of the Dutch government and many so-called art experts. The fact that it’s taken so many tests and trials - over such a long time span, makes one question our ability to fully confirm these facts. Recommended viewing for serious lovers of movies dealing with historical themes.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Director Dan Friedkin dips his brush into the complicated emotions following World War II, masterfully painting an exquisite portrait of two men that's dripping with the messiness of human nature. He begins by muddling the clarity of strict definitions of right and wrong, which is how Piller sees the world. Piller, a Jewish man who'd joined the Dutch Resistance, is now working to rectify wrongs by recovering stolen art and returning it to the rightful, usually Jewish, owners. At the same time, the Dutch government is tracking down those who consorted and conspired with the Nazis. When the two investigations lead to the same man, van Meegeren, the film's real purpose becomes clear. What is morality? What is integrity? While we can look at the extreme ends of the spectrum and see people in terms of good (Freedom Fighters) and bad (Nazis), the actions of many lie in the middle. So then what?

This twisty story is accompanied by top-notch cinematography, phenomenal production design, wonderful costumes, and excellent acting. Bang drums up such a dashing image of righteousness frayed by emotional anguish that it's hard to believe he can play anything else. (But he can: He plays a despicable rogue in another art drama, The Burnt Orange Heresy.) And Pearce portrays the inscrutable van Meegeren with controlled zeal -- the restraint is to deliver believability, as apparently the real van Meegeren was truly a smug, flamboyant charmer. The Last Vermeer isn't perfect. There are moments that could use a bigger pronouncement, as well as some underexplained character relationships. But it's pretty darn good -- and for teens, it could be an intriguing vehicle to help understand the aftermath and psychology of a harrowing war. And for a more timely debate about cancel culture, it offers an excellent look at the complexities of character. Or try this: It's part of the rationale for why history proves over and over that society is willing to overlook criminal acts by larger-than-life con men.

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