Johann is a guard at the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, where he meets Anne, a Canadian visiting the city. A friendship develops that is intimate though not amorous; the absence of passion allows the film to forage for unique material. Museum Hours wanders, both in conversation and through Vienna, but is in no way adrift. Every image is anchored with importance, from trash on the corner to the Bruegels inside the museum, as the friends each discover the other through the lens of looking. They’re neither quick nor clever, but their powers of observation are tremendous, and they’re perfectly casted: Mary Margaret O’Hara, a mesmerizing songstress and occasional actor, and Bobby Sommer, a non-actor who works for Austria’s international film festival.
Museum Hours is a feature-length production that was fairly well-distributed, shocking because its focus--aesthetic experience--is hardly a subject that promises a large monetary return for producers. It offers another kind of return--the promise of illumination. Someone once said that film brings its time to you; you bring your time to painting. Museum Hours blends the two worlds, film and painting, and leads us to see the world anew.