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Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

  Directed by: Peter Webber
Written by: Tracy Chevalier, Olivia Hetreed
Starring: Colin Firth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkinson
Links: Girl with a Pearl Earring on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Ear-piercing sensuality" - a review by em_fiction

Scarlett Johansson has somewhat begun a pattern in her films. I like to refer to it as the 'young girl with older man' trend: Ghost World (2001) (although it wasn't her who was the 'young girl'), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) (no one can forget the car scene with Billy Bob Thornton) and of course Lost in Translation (2003) (the unforgettable platonic relationship with Bill Murray). Besides the presence Johansson, what else do all these films have in common? They're all brilliant. Trusting this formula, I thought I might as well check out the next instalment of this 'trend' of Scarlett's and watch Girl with a Pearl Earring where this time, Colin Firth takes on the role of 'older man'.

Scarlett plays Griet, a poor peasant girl forced to work in the home of a painter, Vermeer (Firth) during the 1600s. While scrubbing the windows in his den one particular day, Griet is discovered by Vermeer as a potential piece of artwork when he realises how beautiful she actually is. Teaching her numerous delicate secrets about art and colours, as well as giving her a glance at the camera obscura (one of the earliest ancestors of the camera), Vermeer gets drawn closer and closer to Griet, treating her better than most peasants would've deserved back then.

Things don't stay pretty for long — Vermeer's wife Catharina (Essie Davis) develops a fierce jealousy while the wealthy vendee of Vermeer's paintings, Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson) also turns out to be a rather unpleasant character. Alas, Vermeer's desire to paint Griet hasn't brought too much happiness.

Let me just begin by answering that question I know a lot of you have running through your dirty little heads: No, Scarlett Johansson does not have sex with Colin Firth, as disappointed as you may be to hear that (if you weren't wondering about that then my apologies; it's just that the majority of teenage boys my age most likely would be). The most sexual — no, I should say, the most 'sensual' scene in the entire film is the slow, dramatic yet strangely romantic scene in which Vermeer pierces Griet's ears. It was probably the highlight of the entire film — in other words, it'd be the scene that the film would be remembered for (if it were remembered) or the scene that'd be used if the film were ever to be spoofed, kind of like the 'horse's head in the bed'.

Firth and Johansson play their roles to perfection, particularly Firth. It wasn't just his acting that was good, it was the fact that he was casted, because he was visually perfect for the role. Vermeer is a man of few words and very subtle expressions, and Firth conveys this excellently. I could probably say that Firth's performance has somewhat been overlooked. Johansson was also very good in her role but the problem I had was that after seeing her in three fully American films, she wasn't incredibly convincing playing an English character. But she was still good. Tom Wilkinson's character was far too eccentric for an actor like him — a slight casting error there.

Despite superb performances from the lead actors, the film itself was rather ordinary. I mean, I'm not incredibly fond of films set in this era. A lot of it was just far too dull to keep the attention of someone who isn't really into this kind of film in the first place. I'm sorry but you'll need more than just a good climax. Like Monster (2003), this film is sure to harvest praise from a lot of people, but just not from me. Nevertheless, good performances save this film from being a total parade of tedium.

em_fiction gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 23 Jan 2004

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Reader comments

  1. a

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from a on Wed 02 Feb 2005 12:04 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (1 rating)

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