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Running Time:
99 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for some sexual content

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
This film's a stunning addition to the growing list of films about the great Masters. It's very well done and although fictional, it's a perfect visualization of life in 17th century Holland.


Girl with a Pearl Earring
After her father, a tile painter, is blinded in a kiln explosion, seventeen-year-old Griet (Scarlett Johansson "Lost In Translation") is forced to take a job to support her family. She becomes a maid in the house of Johannes Vermeer, (Colin Firth "Love Actually") and she gradually attracts the 17th century master painter's attention. Though worlds apart in upbringing, education and social standing, Vermeer recognizes Griet's intuitive understanding of color and light and slowly draws her into the mysterious world of his paintings. Based on the best selling novel by Tracy Chevalier, and directed by Peter Webber, the film speculates on who the girl in the painting is, and why she looks both amused and sad. The entire drama revolves around the emotional waves set in motion by the presence of this unusual beauty. Griet learns the routine of the household and does her work with obedience to the many masters she must serve. Whenever she's cleaning in Vermeer's studio, her eyes take in every detail of the room. When the painter senses an appreciation of his work that no one else in the household shows, he soon has her buying and mixing his paints. Meanwhile, the house is run by a mirthless bunch of women. Vermeer's penny-pinching mother-in-law, Maria (Judy Parfitt), keeps a close eye on her emotional daughter Catharina (Essie Davis) who seems to be perennially pregnant. There is also a mischievous and menacing twelve-year-old granddaughter in the house, who sees more than she should, and quickly grows jealous and suspicious of Griet, and determined to cause trouble. When Griet goes to the marketplace to shop for meat, she catches the eye of the butcher's son Pieter (Cillian Murphy), who shyly courts the lovely young girl. The survival of the Vermeer household rests on the continued patronage of Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), a wealthy art patron with an eye to beauty, who lusts after the lovely new maid. Sensing the tensions caused by the beauty within Vermeer's home, and desiring Griet himself, the cunning patron offers Vermeer a tempting commission. He asks the artist to paint a portrait of Griet, behind his wife's back. The money-hungry Maria realizing the income the painting will bring into the home, allows the painting to proceed, and Vermeer's relationship with Griet to deepen. Vermeer agrees to paint the portrait, but requires that it include his wife's pearl earring, to complete the picture, knowing full well what repercussions might ensue if this secret is revealed. The film not only goes into the painting of this masterpiece, but beautifully recreates the tensions, hardships and scheming in the household as well as beautifully recreating the settings and the living conditions of the period. Johannsen's wide eyed voluptuousness makes her a perfect choice to portray Vermeer's mysterious figure. Firth is broodingly virile, amply suggesting why Griet might be taken with more than just his painting talent. In a later time and place, these two would be lovers. But class distinctions, religion and education make this impossible. Though sexual tensions abound, their smoldering passion remains simply platonic. Cinematographer Eduardo Serra expertly captures the textural richness of the scenery, period costumes and excellent cast, but he takes his lighting cues from the artist's work, expertly duplicating Vermeer's use of highly directional side lighting with gradations of values maximizing the three dimensional effect of the artist's work.






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