Top critical review
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A work of dedication that lacks sufficient structure
on 24 March 2008
The movie is the product of enormous love and dedication on the part of the director, the production team and the actors. It is visually stunning and conjures up the appearance and atmosphere of Vienna at the end of the Nineteenth century with great fidelity. The costume design by Birgit Hutter is wonderful, and Ricardo Aronovich, the Director of Photography, creates a cinematic equivalent of Klimt's swirling, bejewelled paintings.
The acting is convincing but there are discrepancies between the naturalistic style of the British actors like Saffron Burrows and Stephen Dillane, and the more expressionistic theatrical approach of the German, Austrian and other nationalities. John Malkovich's approach is different again, and although he greatly resembles the painter, Gustav Klimt, he does not seem to have effectively integrated himself into the whole. As far as resemblances are concerned, the prize goes to Nikolai Kinski as Egon Schiele, and if the director had decided to go all out for an Expressionist approach like Kinski's, the movie would have been a greater success.
Its main problem, however, is that it lacks dramatic structure. It is dreamlike (and occasionally nightmarish) to a degree, but it remains structurally far too loose for its two-hour length.
However, it is a visual treat and if you like the art of the Vienna Secession, it's well worth viewing.