Girl With A Pearl Earring

"Excellent"

Girl With A Pearl Earring Review


Director Peter Webber has such a mesmerizing command over the emotional resonance of "Girl With a Pearl Earring" -- a masterpiece film that imagines the story behind Johannes Vermeer's masterpiece painting -- that there are several moments in the picture so evocative, so stunning that they literally make you hold your breath.

One such moment comes as the Dutch master, played with alluring, untamed gravitas by the solemnly magnetic Colin Firth, cajoles his tentative, spellbound model -- a modest, reticent young housemaid (the extraordinary Scarlett Johansson) who has slowly become his muse and artistic confidant -- to wet her lips (and then wet them again, and again) as he readies her to pose for his most famous, most exquisitely lifelike and certainly most emotionally enigmatic portrait.

This scene is the culmination of an unspoken, unattainable desire between them and is a magnificent fusion of performance, intimacy and sudden, startling silences in Alexandre Desplat's stirring musical score -- the combination of which is a demonstrative potency that Webber manipulates at will.

The director holds sway over such powerfully visceral effects throughout this film, set in the beautifully gritty and gray, canal-traversed city of Delft, Holland, circa 1665, where Vermeer was fatefully beholden to a wealthy but lascivious and manipulative patron (played with oily charisma by the always terrific Tom Wilkinson) for his livelihood.

Into his household comes Griet (Johansson), a sheltered 17-year-old who has been forced into servitude to help support her family after her father, a journeyman tile painter, was blinded and badly disfigured in an accident. Johansson hardly speaks in her enthralling performance of tentative glances and internalized passions kept tightly wound under her simple white bonnet. Yet she portrays an enormous sense of wonder as Griet's natural acumen for recognizing beauty and composition draws her each day to study the progress of her master's paintings as she cleans his studio.

Recognizing a kindred spirit in the unadorned beauty's innate comprehension of his work, Vermeer is soon drawn to her as well -- a fact that sets in motion a tantalizing mentorship, the jealousy of his vulnerable and volatile wife (played to mistrustful perfection by Essie Davis), the spite of his most mischievous daughter (Alakina Mann), and the unnerving manipulations of his Machiavellian benefactor.

Adapted from Tracy Chevalier's speculative novel by screenwriter Olivia Hetreed, "Girl With a Pearl Earring" brings its 17th century setting vividly to life with humble costuming and imaginative, often metaphorical imagery inspired in part by Vermeer's work. Webber's fluid command of the film's heightened emotions proves more remarkable by the minute as Johansson (departing appreciably from her perfect modern melancholy in "Lost in Translation") and Firth ("Pride and Prejudice," "Bridget Jones's Diary") build a halting but inescapable yearning between them that is tested by thorny circumstances that lead to the painting of Griet's portrait and the acquisition of the famous earring at its focal point.

All this builds toward another of the picture's breathtaking moments, when Johansson strikes the painting's over-the-shoulder pose and her resemblance to its unknown subject becomes dramatically clear.

Just as the piercing poignancy of Vermeer's work of art can be felt influencing every aspect of the movie -- especially in Johansson's haunting personification of portrait's elusive potency -- the fictitious backstory of "Girl With a Pearl Earring" has such a vivid depth and breadth that it's hard to imagine looking at the painting again without being influenced by the film.

That is an exceptional testament to the power of this cinematic tour de force.



Girl With A Pearl Earring

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th January 2004

Box Office USA: $11.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $31.5M

Distributed by: Exhibition On Screen

Production compaines: Wild Bear Films, Archer Street Productions, Delux Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 125 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Griet, as Johannes Vermeer, as Pieter, as Pieter Van Ruijven, as Maria Thins, as Catharina Bolnes Vermeer, Joanna Scanlan as Tanneke, Gabrielle Reidy as Griet's Mother, Chris McHallem as Griet's Father, as Cornelia Vermeer, as Frans, as Maertge

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.