GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is an exquisite little picture, inspired not by a
story but by a painting of the same name by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer.
With a wisp of a story, the movie is all about mood and shadow, and observing
it is much like savoring a great old painting. Its delights come not from the
words but the images, which are as richly textured as something you might find
hanging in a gallery. Set in Delft, Holland in 1665, the film provides an
inviting sense of place and time. The performances are delicate and fine, but
the point of the picture is as much about the visuals as the acting.
Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson star as Vermeer and Griet, his shy new maid.
If you're thinking that this might be one of those sex-charged tales of
adultery, you'd be wrong, although Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), Vermeer's
wealthy benefactor, really wants to have his way with Griet.
Griet's scarred hands attest to her hard daily labor, which includes lots of
vigorous scrubbing of everything from floors to clothes. Only able to speak
when spoken to by her master or mistress, she is a quiet and resilient worker.
Cillian Murphy, the impressive star of 28 DAYS LATER, plays her boyfriend
Pieter, the son of the local butcher.
Just as solemn and reserved is Vermeer, a slow painter who has to endure an
oppressive live-in mother-in-law, Maria Thins (Judy Parfitt), and a jealous
wife, Catharina (Essie Davis), who spends her life turning out one baby after
another like a human assembly line.
"They're just paintings -- pictures for money," Maria says to Catharina about
Vermeer's life work. And the movie is "just" about how Vermeer comes to cast
one of his family's maids in one of his masterpieces. It is also just
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING runs 1:35. It is rated PG-13 for "some sexual
content" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes