TIFF 2014: A Boring Exhibit


By: Addison Wylie

Ok, everyone.  This way, please.  This tour is running behind, and we need to catch up.

This next work we’ll be observing is Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery.  This work has been known to carelessly eat up time for those who endure it.  The entire canvas – for some reason – takes close to three hours to view.  And, even though we’re given too much time to comprehend this lacklustre endeavour, on-lookers will stare back in a conflicted state of worn-out restlessness.

Wiseman’s documentary will most likely please those who are willing to let his art gallery simulator wash over them, but he’s done nothing to make his film a special achievement.  He’s freely – and lazily – filmed the interior of London’s renowned National Gallery and the works it displays, and followed around employees, curators, restoration artists, and pensive patrons while documenting their duties and discussions.

National Gallery gives a rare sneak peek at how the gallery runs, but the presentation is dry and the transitioning is abrupt;  giving discourteous chances for movie goers to become invested.

The tour guides featured in Wiseman’s work are qualified for their jobs, but listening to them spout off endless amounts of factual background will have the audience glazing over and tuning out.  It’s one thing to maintain a connection to a guide in person.  Without that visceral connection, it’s just someone lobbing a bunch of thick theory at a disinterested crowd.  Everyone AT the gallery seems to be enjoying themselves though.

If Spongebob Squarepants is considered a televisual babysitter for young ones, National Gallery is a cinematic babysitter for the average senior citizen.

It’s time to move along, folks.  There’s not much else to see here.


National Gallery screens at TIFF on: 

Saturday, September 6 at 12:15 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, September 7 at 12:15 p.m. @ AGO Jackman Hall
Friday, September 12 at 11:30 a.m. @ AGO Jackman Hall 

Rating: G
Language: English
Runtime: 173 minutes

Realted Links:

For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.

Check out the National Gallery TIFF page here.

Buy tickets here.

More TIFF coverage:

Theeb review

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

National Gallery Doc: @NatlGalleryDoc
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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