Nightwatching

This intriguing and revelatory blend of human drama and art-history detective work argues that Rembrandt peppered the canvas of his masterpiece ‘The Night Watch’ with a cleverly coded attack on the Amsterdam bigwigs whose egos he was commissioned to flatter. Deftly combining character study and cultural documentary, it marks Peter Greenaway’s return to the cinema after years of museum installations and multimedia work. He’s been guilty of patience-testing pretension in the past, but this is impressively focused and accessible, shaped around a truly expressive balls-out performance from Martin Freeman as Rembrandt. What’s surprising (in the context of Greenaway’s often chilly past oeuvre) is the film’s genuine compassion for the sufferings of wives, maids and vulnerable orphans, adding an emotive underpinning to its sharp observations on the purpose of art and the nature of representation. It’s not just Greenaway’s best film in years, but one of his best films, period.

Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday March 26 2010
Duration: 134 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Peter Greenaway
Cast: Martin Freeman
Toby Jones
Emily Browning
Jodhi May