The film, a kind of hybrid between understated drama and essayistic tourism, approaches its subjects with uncommon patience and curiosity, lingering over objects and faces as if to savor their aesthetic qualities, eager to convey truths without authorial imposition.
The real strength of Cohen’s occasionally didactic drama, though, is in the way the film redirects your focus to the periphery and reminds you of the richness that resides there. It was an achievement Bruegel mastered early on. And it’s what makes Museum Hours its own work of art.
Those who don't savor Cohen's leisurely rhythms will probably not respond to Museum Hours, and even the movie's admirers will admit that it could be a little tighter. One scene that might be trimmed is the one where museum-goers pose, naked as the people on the canvases around them. The interlude certainly isn't dull, but it is a little brazen for a film that encourages its viewers to find the beauty in more commonplace sights.