Nightwatching | Chicago Reader

Nightwatching

Peter Greenaway returns to the premise of The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)—an artist destroyed by his aristocratic clientele—with this 2007 drama about the creation of Rembrandt's The Night Watch. The story opens in Amsterdam in 1642, when Rembrandt (Martin Freeman of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) is at the height of his fame and fortune. His wife Saskia (Eva Birthistle) advises him to undertake a commission for a monumental portrait of a local militia representing the wealthiest families in Holland, but Rembrandt, suspecting that two militiamen colluded to murder another, fills the canvas with clues to their guilt and motives. Trained as a painter, Greenaway has often relied on such painterly devices as chiaroscuro, symbolism, and tableaux vivants, and this dense, highly theatrical feature is a lesson in visual literacy as well as a challenging whodunit. With Toby Jones and Jodhi May. 134 min.

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