Apparently contractually obliged to star exclusively in well-made, midtier indie dramas about the art world, Claes Bang (The Square; The Burnt Orange Heresy) doubles down on his pigeonhole with the fact-based The Last Vermeer.
This time, the Danish actor plays Capt. Joseph Piller, an Allied officer in post-World War II Holland who’s tasked with investigating whether Dutch artist Han van Meegeren (Guy Pearce) was a Nazi conspirator.
Thus begins an appealing cat-and-mouse game between the two gifted actors, in which van Meegeren requests merely his painting supplies to prove his innocence and a potentially bigger conspiracy arises involving Nazi money laundering — a suspenseful situation made even more so by mounting pressure from an unforgiving Dutch citizenry who want to see the accused pay for his alleged crimes.
Gorgeously shot, the directorial debut of Dan Friedkin (whose credits range from a producer of Clint Eastwood’s The Mule to a stunt pilot in Dunkirk) hits a wall around its hour mark but finds new life in its second half, when it transforms into a courtroom drama.
The storytelling may not leave much to the imagination — and its female characters, including Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) as Piller’s assistant, are given so little to do that they may as well be played by mannequins — but it makes for a satisfying mystery nonetheless.
Starts Nov. 20 at the Carolina Cinemark