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Girl With a Pearl Earring

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Girl With a Pearl Earring

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth
Director: Peter Webber
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: January 2004
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Tom Wilkinson, Judy Parfitt, Cillian Murphy, Essie Davis, Joanna Scanlan, Alakina Mann, David Morrissey, Anna Popplewell, Anais Nepper, Nathan Nepper

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

As this film unfolds, you're transported back in time to the 17th century of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. Based on Tracy Chevalier's best-selling novel, screenwriter Olivia Hetreed and director Peter Webber speculate on the circumstances surrounding the mysterious creation of Vermeer's most famous painting - and their fiction is presented so realistically that it's convincing.

Set in Holland, in 1665, the story revolves around 16 year-old Griet (Scarlett Johansson), the modest Calvinist daughter of a Delft tilemaker, who is hired as a servant in the tempestuous Catholic household of Vermeer (Colin Firth). As she's dutifully cleaning the artist's attic studio, she becomes fascinated by the interaction of light, space and color. Gratified by her interest in his craft, he teaches her how to mix paints, but their intimacy arouses his wife's (Essie Davis) jealousy and his mother-in-law's (Judy Parfitt) ire. Tension is escalated when Vermeer's conniving patron, Master van Ruijven (Tom Wilkerson), demands that he, secretly, paint a portrait of Griet, who is psychologically tormented as she's also being courted by the butcher's son (Cillian Murphy).

Having scored earlier this year in "Lost in Translation," Scarlett Johansson radiates luminous intelligence, bearing uncanny resemblance to the real model for the painting, while Colin Firth embodies the artist's muted conflict. Cinematographer Eduardo Serra, production designer Ben van Os and costumer Dien van Straalen pay tribute to Vermeer by meticulously constructing each scene as a vibrant work of art, and the sensuous, inherent intrigue is augmented by Alexandre Desplat's musical score. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Girl With a Pearl Earring" is an elegant, exquisite 8. Watching it is to see a painting come to life before your eyes.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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