Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 8, 2014
    100
    An exquisitely fun documentary.
  2. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Dec 6, 2013
    95
    As with Six by Sondheim, Tim's Vermeer works at capturing on film how artists work their miracles. And it will have you, long after the credits fade, puzzling out questions of invention, creativity, science, talent, painstaking craft, and the magic that comes of putting all that together.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Feb 13, 2014
    91
    The result is both a captivating history lesson and a tense intellectual thriller that dares to ask big questions about creativity and technology.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 5, 2013
    91
    What Tim’s Vermeer is really about is two geniuses, of very different sorts, communing across time and space.
  5. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 27, 2014
    90
    It’s fascinating and funny while forcing us to consider the line between technology and art.
  6. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 12, 2013
    90
    Like art itself, words can't fully capture what it is like to see the Vermeer emerge under Jenison's brush. Or to see Jenison's obsession with the idea run its course.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Nov 5, 2013
    90
    The result is just about the most fun you can have while learning, partly because it strips away any tangents beyond the task at hand, offering a lean, 80-minute account of how this crazy guy erected his own Everest and then proceeded to climb it.
  8. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Feb 20, 2014
    88
    The deeper Tim’s Vermeer takes you, the peskier and more profound the questions get.
  9. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Jan 31, 2014
    88
    The movie is straightforward, brisk, engaging, and sometimes even moving. One might entire feeling wary that the movie, in depicting an attempt to duplicate Vermeer's achievement, might also glibly undercut it; but that's not the point at all. Rather, Tim's Vermeer wants to expand the audience's understanding of what the actual practice of art is.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 31, 2014
    88
    A stimulating detective story that holds you in thrall.
  11. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jan 30, 2014
    88
    This thought-provoking documentary addresses the origins of Vermeer's photo-realistic art with all the suspense of a thriller.
  12. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Nov 5, 2013
    88
    Teller manages a careful enough balance between painstaking technique and a larger cultural context over 80 brisk minutes to make even minor revelations feel like major moments.
  13. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 5, 2013
    83
    Teller's rough, uncomplicated filmmaking style does little to elaborate on Jenison's story, as the subject's unending curiosity singlehandedly carries each scene.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jan 30, 2014
    80
    The most intriguing question it raises is whether our feelings about Vermeer may be changed by the likelihood of him having used optics of one sort or another. The answer is yes, unavoidably, but not necessarily for the worse.
  15. 80
    Tim’s Vermeer starts off in a playful fashion, but as he soldiers on, our intrepid, mild-mannered technologist finds himself getting emotional. In the presence of art, something happens. By the time it’s over, don’t be surprised if you’re more in awe of the work of an artist than ever before. Maybe this is Penn and Teller’s final, subtle rug-pulling moment: An attempt to demystify the artistic process ends up posing even greater mysteries.
  16. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Nov 5, 2013
    80
    The connection between art and technology is explored in an entertaining and accessible way in Tim's Vermeer, a documentary that demonstrates how a savvy and dedicated amateur with sufficient resources was able to create a remarkable likeness of a great 17th century painting.
  17. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 6, 2014
    75
    Jenison, who had never painted a thing in his life, does indeed produce a beautiful work, but we should never forget that Penn and Teller are professional bamboozlers, and their attempt to re-frame the definition of genius might be nothing but smoke and mirrors.
  18. Reviewed by: James Adams
    Feb 20, 2014
    75
    Johannes Vermeer is still a genius at documentary’s end but a fathomable genius, as much scientist as artist, a driven, resourceful creator whose conceptual and compositional brilliance remains undiminished by whatever techniques Jenison, Hockney and crew ascribe to him.
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Feb 13, 2014
    75
    While Penn and Teller certainly know how to tell a story, Tim’s Vermeer is at times a chore to sit through, even with a brisk 80-minute running time. We’re literally watching paint dry.
  20. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Feb 13, 2014
    75
    Tim’s Vermeer makes a convincing case that Vermeer could have painted the way Jenison says he did. It also makes a pretty powerful ancillary point: that some people are both geniuses and geeks.
  21. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Feb 13, 2014
    75
    It's an odd film, ultimately rewarding, because it's about an odd venture.
  22. Reviewed by: Bill Weber
    Dec 19, 2013
    75
    It chronicles the quest of a self-described "geek," and there are pleasurable frissons of discovery in the detective work.
  23. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 6, 2013
    75
    Highly entertaining documentary.
  24. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Jan 29, 2014
    70
    Tim’s Vermeer is more of an engineering lecture. And while it’s edifying in and of itself, it’s almost more fascinating because of the reasons it never transforms into anything else.
  25. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Mar 19, 2014
    67
    With its brief running time and revelatory story, this neat, fascinating documentary ought to be required viewing for art history students everywhere.
  26. Reviewed by: Ben Kenigsberg
    Dec 4, 2013
    67
    This is all fascinating for art-history buffs, and while a documentary is the ideal vehicle for illustrating Jenison’s process, Tim’s Vermeer plays more like an extended PBS special than it does a movie.
  27. 63
    A fascinating documentary experiment in fathoming the heretofor “unfathomable” genius of Johannes Vermeer.
  28. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 14, 2014
    60
    An entertaining and interesting film, and one that speaks with a reasonable degree of credibility. And while that might not make it high art, it's good enough for me.
  29. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 5, 2013
    60
    The result is cool and semi-comical, but also serious.
  30. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Dec 3, 2013
    60
    The film ultimately plays less like an experiment than a demonstration of a tinkerer’s ingenuity. Tim’s finished Vermeer may resemble the real thing, but Tim’s Vermeer never tackles the true mystery of why the latter is actually incomparable.
  31. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 3, 2013
    50
    Penn and Teller are bright guys, and their act can be fun in small doses. Yet Tim's Vermeer accentuates one of their worst impulses: They think they're mischievously raining on our parades when, really, they're not telling us much at all.
  32. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jan 31, 2014
    40
    Shooting in unattractive, hard-edge digital, Teller condenses Mr. Jenison’s years-long pursuit into 80 glib, alternately diverting, exasperating and tedious minutes.
User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Feb 2, 2014
    9
    Anything narrated by Penn Jilette is, by definition, awesome. But this story is remarkable. Tim, unlike so many today, has an incredibleAnything narrated by Penn Jilette is, by definition, awesome. But this story is remarkable. Tim, unlike so many today, has an incredible can-do spirit & attitude. He doesn't give up when faced with obstacles. He doesn't whine. I'd love to see what he's up to next. And I'd love to see what his painting would go for on the open market. It's lovely. Full Review »
  2. Mar 12, 2014
    8
    Inventor Tim Jenison developed a theory that Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer used some sort of optic technology to create his paintings. AfterInventor Tim Jenison developed a theory that Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer used some sort of optic technology to create his paintings. After interviews and research he sets out to create his own version of one of Vermeer's classics by working from a real environment. This is a fascinating concept and an amazing procedure that took years to realize. The documentation of the tedious final process is the only time the film starts to lag. Otherwise, it's interesting to anyone who enjoys an intriguing confluence of art and technology. Full Review »
  3. Feb 5, 2014
    9
    “Tim’s Vermeer” is a documentary involving Tim Jenison, the noted inventor and visual arts entrepreneur, and his inquiry into the style and“Tim’s Vermeer” is a documentary involving Tim Jenison, the noted inventor and visual arts entrepreneur, and his inquiry into the style and methods used by Johannes Vermeer who Mr. Jenison considers to be the finest artist of the 17th Century or, for that matter, any Century.
    Jenision ‘s aim or goal is to answer the question: “How did Vermeer do it” and were optical assists used in the creaton of his art. With input from artists such as actor Martin Mull and artist David Hockney, under the able narration of Penn Jillette and direction of Teller, Mr. Jenison shares with the audience his scientific means of trying to discover and prove what optical devices were used by artist Vermeer under the same circumstances and limitations that faced Mr. Vermeer in the 1600’s. This is an absorbing film with Jenison sharing each effort, success and setback as he, although not an artist himself, seeks to create a Vermeer painting using the techniques he hypothesizes the artist used some 400 years ago.
    This film is not only for art buffs, but for those of us ready to witness an inventor who, with tenacity and spirit, works tirelessly to achieve the desired result. I give this film an 8.5 and highly recommend that it be seen by as many viewers as possible.
    Full Review »