In order to support her family, seventeen year old Griet becomes a maid in the house of Johannes Vermeer and soon attracts the master painters attention. Although worlds apart in upbringing and social standing, Vermeer recognizes her intuitive understanding of his work and slowly draws her into his mysterious world of art and passion.
Whilst she falls increasingly under Vermeers spell, his volatile family quickly grows jealous of her. Maria, his shrewd mother-in-law, struggles to maintain the familys lifestyle, but seeing that Griet inspires Vermeer, takes the decision to let their relationship develop. Van Ruijven, also sensing the intimacy between master and maid, commissions Vermeer to paint Griets portrait. The result will be one of the greatest paintings ever created
but at what cost?
You wouldn't think a movie could look like a Vermeer painting, but Girl with a Pearl Earring
is filmed with an amazing range of luminous glows that evoke the Dutch artist's masterworks. Of course, it helps that much of the movie focuses on Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation
, Ghost World
), whose creamy skin and full lips have a luminosity of their own. Johansson plays Griet, a maid in the household of Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth), who finds herself in a web of jealousy, artistic inspiration, and social machinations. Though the pace is slow, Girl with a Pearl Earring
genuinely conveys some sense of an artist's process, as well as offering many chaste yet sensual moments between Firth and Johansson. Also featuring Essie Davis as Vermeer's bitter wife and Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom
) as a wealthy patron with eyes for Griet. --Bret Fetzer