What the Critics Are Saying

A close up of a man's facce as he looks at a painting. The man wears glasses with one lens blacked out and some kind of magnifying lens attached to the otherA still from NATIONAL GALLERY

“Mr. Wiseman’s touch is deft but light here, and the experience of watching ‘National Gallery’ is pleasurable and immersive because he’s a wonderful storyteller. It is also unexpectedly moving. Because his other great theme is how art speaks to us, one he brilliantly expresses in the relay of gazes that finds us looking at museumgoers looking at portraits that look right back — at artists, art lovers and moviegoers — even as Mr. Wiseman, that sly old master, looks at all of us in turn. . . Magnificent . . . The movie is at once specific and general, fascinating in its pinpoint detail and transporting in its cosmic reach. It’s about art and process, money and mystery. . . (a) privileged three-hour virtual tour of the museum.”

–Manohla Dargis, New York Times


“Indeed, he’s America’s foremost practitioner of documentary-as-metaphor, building sweeping arguments of small details.”

–Ben Kenigsberg, RogerEbert.com


“This is one of Wiseman’s richest and most thought-provoking films, and easily one of his best.”

–Budd Wilkins, Slant Magazine


“Wiseman captures some remarkable, wholly unexpected moments. Scarcely a scene or shot goes by, even the ones without speech, in which you don’t learn something. More than anything, it’s a film about art, about its power, its multi-faceted nature, and the legacies it can create. And by the same token, it’s a film about time and the mark we leave on the world.  Wiseman’s film is the most nourishing example of cinematic brain food you’ll have all year.”

–Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe


“Wiseman’s film is all about the studious reverence for the brush-wielding geniuses, and the shepherding of their reputations through the vagaries of restoration and exhibition. . .it’s neither propaganda nor melodrama, but a clear-sighted attempt to establish, with honesty, what working at the National Gallery is like – and that is its principal value.”

–Andrew Pulver, The Guardian


“But as one specialist points out, “Paintings change, and how you look at them changes as well,” and what’s most fascinating about Wiseman’s approach is the way it captures hidden or unfamiliar aspects of certain pieces, especially in scenes detailing the painstaking labor that goes into conserving the museum’s massive collection.”

–Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter


“A tour de force”

–Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker


“Truly inspiring…a great, great film. It’s like being lulled with intelligence.”

“…It’s beautifully organised, and there’s no way you could possibly watch it without learning all kinds of stuff.”

–Tim Robey, The Telegraph (UK)


“Meticulously crafted, intellectually intricate, and touched with profundity. An invigorating portrait. A tribute to the wonders of creative expression. A film about classics and their illustrious home that itself has been made by a modern master.”

–Nick Schager, Village Voice



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