Jem Cohen’s gentle, meandering tale of two middle-aged strangers who meet in the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, could be a Lost in Translation for an older generation. It’s also a meditation on art and how we interact with it and understand it, in this case in a museum setting, and you could even call it a travelogue of the museum, though a very idiosyncratic one that finds as much interest in people watching as browsing through the masterpieces of Rembrandt and Bruegel and the Dutch and Flemish that dominate this collection.
Our tour guide is Johann (Bobby Sommer), a gentle Austrian museum guard in his sixties who enjoys communing with the artworks and likes the contemplative pace of his job. In his younger days he was the road manager for a hard rock band, he explains in voice-over. Now he’s happy with the simple pleasures of monitoring the museum, watching the crowds shuffle through, and offering assistance to the stray patron who needs a little direction.
Anne (Mary Margaret O’Hara), a Canadian woman who has traveled to Vienna to watch over a cousin who has fallen into a coma, is one such patron. She’s adrift in city she doesn’t know that speaks a language she doesn’t understand.