Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk

First things first, and I have to get this off my chest: for the credits of this movie, someone made the decision to use Comic Sans. Whyyyyyy? Why would you bankroll a pretentious, expensive-looking, frankly insane arty film starring John Malkovich and then choose a font that makes the opening sequence (a painting spinning round in close-up) look like someone's cheap YouTube video? Good grief.

That aside, it's a shame I can't say that the rest of the film made up for it. It wasn't precisely a bad film, but it wasn't precisely a good film. It wasn't precisely a watchable film either. Everything is very pretty. A lot of people are naked for a lot of the film. John Malkovich does his thing reliably. It is hard to say much else.

Copy picture

I mean, I realise it is meant to be the deathbed hallucinations of a syphilitic who was none too sane in the first place. I know that it is supposed to be a twist on the old "life-flashing-before-your-eyes" method of biopic storytelling. Unfortunately it turned out like a mixture of pretentious student art film and self-conscious surrealist headtrip. It was mostly pointless to try to work out what was symbolic of what, half the time because it was blindingly obvious (see, he keeps seeing his portrait double around because he has identity issues) and half the time because it was insane and pointless (a character no-one else could see who added nothing to the story, except by being Stephen Dillane looking quite cute in a moustachioed kind of way).

I am not against stories with non-obvious and hidden meanings, but in order to feel that the effort is worthwhile the result has to be enjoyable, which this film sadly wasn't. It was a shallow portrayal of a person (given that pretty much all we learn about Klimt is that he had lots of kids by different mothers and that he had some identity issues) glitzed up with nudity and sparkly bits, and Comic Sans for some reason. Worth seeing perhaps by rabid Malkovich fans, but this is the only reason I can think of to make the effort.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2007
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Klimt packshot
A portrait of the artist as a middle aged man.
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Director: Raoul Ruiz

Writer: Raoul Ruiz and Gilbert Adair

Starring: John Malkovich, Veronica Ferres, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Dillane, Paul Hilton

Year: 2006

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Austria, France, Germany, UK

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If you like this, try:

Girl With A Pearl Earring
Woman In Gold