Equal parts period war film and courtroom drama, “The Last Vermeer” tells an engrossing little-known story of the art world’s dark connection to Nazi Germany. It’s a handsome, well-acted movie from first-time director Dan Friedkin.
In the aftermath of World War II, Lt. Joseph Piller (Claes Bang from “The Square” and Netflix’ “Dracula”) is assigned to investigate and redistribute artworks stolen by the Nazis. His efforts often result in swift prosecutions and summary executions by firing squad. A Dutch Jew, who fought in the resistance, Piller is dedicated to doing his job ethically. But when he meets Han van Meegeren (Guy Pearce), a flamboyant painter turned art dealer, Piller realizes that what’s seen as collaboration with the enemy might be something else entirely.
With the assistance of a young art historian named Minna (Vicky Krieps from “Phantom Thread”), and soldier Esper Dekker (Roland Møller), a rough and tumble mate from his resistance days, Piller decides to take up the case for van Meegeren. As forces in the Netherlands pressure Piller to give up, Piller employs a retired lawyer named Bernard Bakker (Karl Johnson) to help with the hasty trial. Efforts to erase the lingering stench of Adolf Hitler threaten to overcome justice as van Meegeren’s life hangs in the balance.
Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald: https://times-herald.com/news/2020/11/the-last-vermeer-little-known-war-story-is-intriguing-movie