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HAUGESUND 2020

Critique : My Rembrandt

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- Ce documentaire d’Oeke Hoogendijk est un travail amusant sur les fans de Rembrandt

Critique : My Rembrandt

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Oeke Hoogendijk's documentary My Rembrandt [+lire aussi :
bande-annonce
fiche film
]
was screened in the main programme of this year's Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund. The Amsterdam-born documentarian is best known for her previous feature The New Rijksmuseum (2014), which followed the large-scale renovation of the world-famous Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam over the course of ten years. My Rembrandt had its world premiere at the 2019 edition of IDFA.

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What lies behind the masterpieces of Rembrandt, one of the masters of the Dutch golden age? How are these artworks affecting the people owning them? Why are these paintings still so important? These are the main questions Hoogendijk's piece tries to answer, and to do so, she chooses to follow a group of art collectors who share a passion, to different extents and for different reasons, for Rembrandt's oeuvre.

The film opens with the first of these charismatic characters, an eccentric aristocratic Scot, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch, who is looking for the ultimate place to hang his beloved portrait of Rembrandt's Old Woman Reading (1655). He is followed by Jan Six, a jolly young art dealer and descendant of the Jan Six painted by the artist in 1654, alongside his father. Next, baron Eric de Rothschild is selling two more Rembrandts, namely the twin portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, painted for their wedding in 1634. What initially seems to be a light-hearted essay about these art collectors and their personal connections with the master's paintings, later develops into an intrigue with young Six as the main protagonist. At an auction held at Christie's, the dealer is able to buy an undiscovered Rembrandt for just £137,000, as it was mistakenly catalogued as a simple work pertaining to the “circle of Rembrandt”. Driven by profit, Six ends up enraging his partners, investors and experts, Dutch art historian Ernst van de Wetering above all.

The movie does not give this controversy a proper conclusion; but it does effectively show the irreconcilable relationship between arts and business, most evident in van de Wetering's powerful words as he expresses his disappointment about the whole quarrel: “Can I remain pure? You shouldn't talk to me about money. You shouldn't discuss that with me at all. I couldn't care less about the value except as a work of art [..] Those paintings belong to us all.” Interestingly, the film’s final scene sees the Scottish nobleman finally pleased with the placement of his beloved painting. Sitting by a fireplace, sipping a good glass of whiskey while reading, he enjoys “the sense of peace and tranquillity” induced by the lady depicted on the canvas. This small heart-warming moment brings Hoogendijk's documentary into a purer dimension, where art can be appreciated for what it really is, namely an expression of beauty capable of comforting and inspiring mankind through time.

My Rembrandt was produced by the director herself and Frank van den Engel for Dutch outfit Discours Film. London-based firm Dogwoof is in charge of its UK distribution.

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