Projections - Movie Reviews

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Starring Colin Firth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkinson,
Judy Parfitt, Cillian Murphy, Essie Davis

Girl With A Pearl Earring is like a work of art coming to life in Peter Webber's film which boasts an inspired performance by Colin Firth Love Actually, and even more so for, Scarlett Johansson Lost in Translation, in the title role.

The screenplay by Olivia Hetreed from the Tracy Chevalier novel looks into the relationship between a servant girl and 17th-century painter Johannes Vermeer as she helps him create an indelible portrait.

The nature of the story from Firth's first appearance as Vermeer takes on a romantic yet contrived quality that seems to go hand in hand with moody artists.

Griet (Johansson) is a pious 17-year-old Protestant involuntarily brought into servitude for the Catholic Vermeer family in Delft, Holland.

Vermeer's straining career is taking a tole on his household as his wife Catherina (Essie Davis) isn't allowed in his studio. But, Griet who expresses a deep appreciation of his compositions and begins purchasing and mixing his paints. She brings out the best in him.

This unhurried, evocative film has Webber getting yeoman work from lenser Eduardo Serra and designer Ben van Os to give 1665 Holland a warm, incandescent aura.

Feelings simmer with subtle eroticism between master and his new assistant, though she is being shyly courted by a handsome butcher (Cillian Murphy of 28 Days Later and Cold Mountain).

The melodrama gravitates on Catherina's jealousy, Vermeer's angry daughter Cornelia, and his chief patron, opulent Master von Ruijven, played by Tom Wilkinson In The Bedroom. Vermeer paints Griet with cream-colored skin and white bonnet all behind his wife's back.

The expressive vision by Webber, know for his television direction, has some affection for Vermeer's contemporaries, although Johansson's revelations have more silent, emotional resonance than the drama in this lovely, but mostly inert historical drama.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

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