Guest Review: Tim’s Vermeer

Tim’s Vermeer Review by Marcus Irving

He’s watching you.

The documentary film Tim’s Vermeer follows one passionate and obsessive man’s journey to recreate a painting that has confounded historians for years by discovering and applying methods that could have been used. That passionate and obsessive man is Tim Jenison. Jenison is an extremely accomplished person that has tried his hand at many things. He is an inventor first and foremost that is the founder and active owner of NewTek, a company that makes products for use in post-production of video. Jenison has also raised a nice family, seen briefly throughout the film.

One thing he hasn’t done yet is paint. He’s always had an admiration for painting, more specifically, an admiration for seventeenth-century painter Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer was light-years ahead of his time in terms of absolute realism in his paintings. He was so far ahead that experts have been baffled by it for years. Jenison sets out to find out how Vermeer painted and painstakingly recreate one of Vermeer’s great works, The Music Lesson. Throughout the journey, Jenison makes several mystifying revelations and eventually paints one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. Tim’s Vermeer is a wonderfully crafted movie, one that will make you laugh and might even make you well up, and one that is entirely worth watching.

The Timster
Halfway through the film Tim discovers his true passion, the violin, and quits painting to become a wandering fiddler.

Tim’s Vermeer is an extremely confidently made documentary. Directed, oddly enough, by Teller, of magician duo Penn & Teller, the film is a brisk and enjoyable ride. Jenison’s arduous quest lasted over eleven years, so the film, clocking in at eighty minutes, almost goes by too fast. It took a smart person to not turn the nearly 1,500 hours of footage into a film three plus hours long. In the wrong hands, Tim’s epic journey could have been a total slog.

Tim’s Vermeer is far from a slog though. The film is narrated by Penn Jillette, the other half of Penn & Teller. Penn enthusiastically and hilariously narrates for most of the film, leaving never a dull moment. He isn’t always cracking wise though. He is often giving insightful context to each new thing Tim does and excitedly cheering on his longtime friend. The movie can be laugh out loud funny at times, but there are moments that will warm your heart. When Tim finally completes his masterpiece, he steps away from it and starts crying, and you want to do it with him. It’s this satisfaction of getting something that you have worked so hard for years that everybody can relate to. This emotional high is one of many that make Tim’s Vermeer worth watching.

I don’t regret my time with Tim’s Vermeer at all. The film is short enough to where you don’t feel bored watching it, but long enough and so densely packed with content that you feel like you get a complete experience. I would recommend the film to pretty much anybody. If you have an appreciation for art at all, you’ll love it. If you want to laugh, you surely will. If you want to see an exciting account of satisfaction and of getting what you want after years of hard work, you will absolutely get it. (Savlov).

Tim’s Vermeer is the account of one man’s struggle to get what he wants most. It’s one that we can all relate to. The film is filled with so much fun and goes by so quickly that you will wish you had more to watch, but it feels like such a whole experience that you won’t feel robbed. Tim’s Vermeer is a technically sound and very well put together film that I absolutely recommend everybody to watch.


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