UK, Peter Webber (2003)
Yet another movie that I see on the tail end of its theatrical run, thereby eliminating any chance I might have to encourage people to SEE IT ON THE BIG SCREEN! You still have about a week or so (at least around Chicago) to catch it first run. The DVD release is right around the corner (somehow I know that…) but don’t cheat yourself. This film is one beautifully composed Dutch masters painting after another. The quality of light, which is so important to the paintings, is breathtakingly captured by director of photography Eduardo Serra. This fictionalized account of the creation of one of the world’s most famous paintings is a story of creativity, kindred spirits and jealousy. There isn’t a lot of dialog in this film; it’s mostly about images—looking at paint on a canvas, seeing the hidden colors in the world as a painter sees it, Vermeer (Colin Firth) looking at the maid (Scarlett Johansson) and seeing his next painting there before him. Scarlett Johansson’s performance demonstrates that Lost in Translation was no fluke—in Pearl Earring she conveys so much about her character without uttering a word.
Yesterday when I was discussing this film with a colleague—as the only “chicks” in the office, of course we were the only two to have seen it—she summed it up very well: Any movie that can make the piercing of an ear its emotional climax is really something unusual and special.
Here’s the Gist: With stunning visuals and a compelling story, I found Girl With a Pearl Earring a thoroughly engrossing film. [*****]
For a little something extra, check out this clickable map of Vermeer paintings. Select an image to get interesting background on each painting.