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Tim's Vermeer (2014)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 114
Fresh: 102 | Rotten: 12

Entertaining and profound in equal measure, Tim's Vermeer uses its seemingly esoteric subject to pose fascinating questions about art and obsession.


Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 33
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 5

Entertaining and profound in equal measure, Tim's Vermeer uses its seemingly esoteric subject to pose fascinating questions about art and obsession.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 7,852

My Rating

Movie Info

Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, (Video Toaster, LightWave, TriCaster) attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer ("Girl with a Pearl Earring") manage to paint so photo-realistically - 150 years before the invention of photography? The epic research project Jenison embarks on to test his theory is as extraordinary as what he discovers. Spanning a decade, Jenison's adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted


Documentary, Drama, Special Interest

Jun 9, 2014


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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January 31, 2014:
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All Critics (114) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (102) | Rotten (12)

"Tim's Vermeer" is about many things - art history, technology, painting technique, beauty - but ultimately it's a beguiling study of fascination.

March 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We should never forget that Penn and Teller are professional bamboozlers, and their attempt to re-frame the definition of genius might be nothing but smoke and mirrors.

March 6, 2014 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Unexpectedly dazzling.

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tim's Vermeer is film as forensics, bringing math and science to bear to solve an art-world mystery.

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
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"Tim's Vermeer" is a movie for people who like to think, who like to ponder the big questions surrounding art and the act of creation.

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mostly it is fascinating and compelling.

February 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tim's Vermeer refers not just to the replica Vermeer he seeks to paint, but to his understanding of who Vermeer was and how he accomplished his work.

September 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Under the Radar
Under the Radar

Perhaps the ultimate take-away from Tim's Vermeer is the unquenchable curiosity of certain people, albeit those with the money to finance that inquisitiveness, to get to the bottom of history's mysteries. In that respect, Jenison is an artist.

July 9, 2014 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

The lengths to which Jenison goes to ensure he is working with the same tools, limitations and liberties that were available to Vermeer are nothing short of gobsmacking.

July 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Herald Sun (Australia)

What it turns out to actually be about is Tim Jenison, and what it means to be a member of the new (techno) rich in the United States of the 21st Century.

July 8, 2014 Full Review Source: ABC Radio (Australia)
ABC Radio (Australia)

Tim's Vermeer is both enjoyable as entertainment and as an intelligently mounted case study of how art and technology complement, rather than grind against, each other. As Penn eloquently puts it: "The problem is we make that distinction."

July 5, 2014 Full Review Source: 3AW

A lively, intriguing look at the line between artist and inventor, one that challenges the very notion that the distinction should be made at all.

June 30, 2014 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

A masterpiece of documentary filmmaking

June 17, 2014 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

I can easily say that this film is more engaging than any action film I've seen of late, which is quite a remarkable achievement.

June 9, 2014 Full Review Source:

A wry, entertaining and very impressive study of a groundbreaking adventure in amateur art history

June 5, 2014 Full Review Source: Nonfics

What emerges from this delightful, brief documentary doesn't debunk Vermeer's genius, but certifies it.

May 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do - nothing more, nothing less.

April 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

Jenison's compulsiveness and ingeniousness are interesting, and his research may prove to have some art-scholarship value, but another impresson is that spending 180 days to reproduce 'The Music Lesson' is a colossal waste of time.

March 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Jenison projects humility, but he can barely hide his need to be perceived as the smartest kid in the room. In the end, the film leans harder towards vanity project than earth-shattering documentary

March 27, 2014 Full Review Source:

The crossroads between technology and art has always been troublesome. Without either, we might not have some of the art world's greatest treasures. Certainly without digital video, we wouldn't have this wonderfully entertaining movie either.

March 22, 2014 Full Review Source:

It's obvious in hindsight why Penn and Teller would be so drawn to this ethereally beautiful mystery: Their passion for all things seemingly magical, often mechanical, and always amazing is practically their trademark.

March 20, 2014 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

One can't help but lament that Jenison is missing the heart of the art -- he SEES but he doesn't FEEL.

March 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Despite the exhausting quest taken up by the documentary's hero, the film doesn't register as inspirational.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

It's a sophisticated treatise on the intersection between creativity and technology, presented with all the offhand charm of a great tale told over a round of beers.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Madison Movie
Madison Movie

Combining enough of the characteristic wiseassery of Penn & Teller with a dose of scholarly research on an age-old art-world mystery, it is at once entertaining and edifying.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

The documentary, like the project itself, is an indulgent vanity project: friends making a film about a friend.

March 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Audience Reviews for Tim's Vermeer

A film about a very rich guy wanting to paint a picture like that of Dutch classic Johannes Vermeer doesn't exactly sound like a party, even if it is brought to us by Magic duo Penn & Teller. It's actually a fascinating documentary that uncovers a centuries old secret that has sent a few shockwaves through the Art world. Vermeer's work is regarded as the most real of all painters but how he achieved this high standard has always been attributed to either raw and rather unique talent or having 'Special Brian activity' which has been discredited by experts as nonsense. Tim Jenison has discovered Vermeer's simple technique and uses his wealth to prove it in painstaking detail. Recommended for Art lovers, documentary fans and those that like a good detective story.
September 12, 2014

Super Reviewer

Tim's Vermeer is the study of how a non-artist could construct a masterpiece. For most of the film we watch as Tim attempts to copy The Music Lesson. His pursuit occurs over several months. Only a very rich man with deep pockets could possibly endeavor such a colossal undertaking of time and money. At times the experiment is almost like watching paint dry, and the chronicle even acknowledges this. Yet the results are astonishing nevertheless. One might suggest that his findings negate Vermeer's accomplishments. I found quite the opposite. Assuming this is how Vermeer worked, it re-enforces how difficult it was to create his compositions. Tim's Vermeer is something I'd recommend to anyone with an appreciation for Baroque painting. It probably plays more like a special on public television than as a theatrical movie, but as far as this art history buff is concerned, I was transfixed.
March 22, 2014

Super Reviewer

'Tim's Vermeer'. One man's curiosity and capacity for obsession detailed in a painstakingly entertaining way. Who says art and technology are at opposite ends of the spectrum?

Seeing the months it took, I really what drove Vermeer, or what drove anyone of that era to create paintings like they did?
February 17, 2014

Super Reviewer

As an inventor and special effects innovator, Tim Jenison probably deserves having a documentary made about him just on those criteria alone. But it is his investigation into 17th century painter Johannes Vermeer who was renowned for photographic like realism in his paintings that is of interest in the fascinating and entertaining documentary "Tim's Vermeer" from Penn & Teller.

Due to not wanting contemporaries stealing ideas from him(and probably also to mess with future art historians), Vermeer left behind no notes on his methods. However, certain art historians have theorized that he created his famous paintings with mirrors, or more precisely a camera obscura. That's where Tim Jenison comes into the picture and the documentary by using his engineering expertise to recreate the conditions necessary, first on a copy of a modern photograph of his father-in-law(signed with a black felt tip pen, no less), followed by a reconstruction of one of Vermeer's paintings with a little help from some of the most patient family imaginable.(To be honest, I do suspect there was a little horsetrading involved.)

Not only does all of which not take away from the magic of the paintings, but actually puts us all in awe of the painstaking tasks it took to create such great art. This was at a time when Vermeer had to create all of the geometry of his setup from scratch.
March 6, 2014
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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