Art films are expected to deviate from the boundaries of conventional filmmaking, but there are some basic conventions which, when left out entirely, create tedious, taxing, unpleasant, patience-sucking vortexes of pretentiousness.
“Klimt” is such a film.
Starring John Malkovich, “Klimt” is supposedly a biopic about Gustav Klimt, the Viennese painter famous for participating in that city’s art nouveau movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the only bits of biographical information about the artist in “Klimt” (perhaps made up by writer/director Raoul Ruiz) are:
” Klimt had syphilis,
” he had a lot of illegitimate children, and
” he had them because he was horny most of the time.
The movie flips back and forth between Klimt in 1918, dying in a sanitarium, and at other random points in his life. These points are not connected to each other; some scenes seem to be historically accurate, and some seem to be completely fictional.
There is such a thing as a good art film, but “Klimt” feels like a bunch of arrogant, beret-wearing art-school dropouts came over and blew clove cigarette smoke in your face while they had a poetry slam. The film says something about the circularity of art, history and life, but it’s so oblique and murky, it does nothing to counter the pointlessness surrounding it.
Unless you’re a beret-wearing type, one of Ruiz’s relatives, or someone who likes movies solely for their costumes (or naked chicks), steer clear.