Dir: Jem Cohen, 2013, German/English With Subtitles, 107min, Drama
Vienna, winter. Johann, a guard at the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum encounters Anne, a foreign visitor called to Austria because of a medical emergency. Never having been to Austria and with little money, she wanders the city in limbo,taking the museum as herrefuge. Johann, initially wary, offers help,and they’re drawn into each other’s worlds. Their meetings spark an unexpected series of explorations–of their own lives and the life of the city, and of theway artworks can reflect and shape daily experience.
The museum is seen in the film not as an archaic institution housing historical artifacts, but as an enigmatic crossroads in which,through the artworks, a discussion takes place across time with vital implications in the
contemporary world. While the “conversations” embodied in the museum’s collection revolve around nothing less than the matters that most concern us all: death, sex, history, theology, materialism, and so on;
it’s through the regular lives of the guard and displaced visitor that these heady subjects are brought entirely down to earth and made manifest.
Near the film’s end, Johann and Anne are out exploring on the fringe of the city when her ill friend’s condition suddenly reaches a crisis point.