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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 Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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 sublime.

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

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