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Girl With A Pearl Earring

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Judy Thorburn

Girl With A Pearl Earring

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING” IS A WORK OF ART

Artists who paint on canvas are an entity to themselves. They are distinct in the way they look at the world.  Utilizing colors on a palate to capture their vision, everything is subject to their unique interpretation and perspective. We can admire their gift and enjoy the result of their works.  But, not everyone has the understanding to appreciate both the artist and his art.

The Girl With A Pearl Earring, based on the best selling novel by Tracy Chevalier and adapted to the screen by Olivia Hetreed, is a fictional account of the relationship between seventeenth century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and the young servant who posed for his masterpiece, to which this film gets its title.  Little is known about the painter who died at the age of 43, nor the model, who posed for the portrait. But, like Mona Lisa, we can only guess as to who and what she was all about. While the story proposes to speculate about the everyday dynamics of Vermeer’s family and circumstances that led up to his painting, it is the breathtakingly beautiful art direction and cinematography by Eduardo Serra that is presented as a work of art. Without a doubt every frame, each delicately lit scene is a glorious painting in itself, and an homage to Vermeer’s work.

That isn’t to say that the performances aren’t admirable. Scarlett Johannson (Lost in Translation) does not have much dialogue, but her expressive eyes are the windows into the emotions that are deeply rooted in her quiet young Dutch character. It is an understated performance that is nevertheless, very effective. She plays Griet, who is forced to work as one of the servants in the home of secluded painter, Johannes Vermeer  (an intense and restrained Colin Firth) in order to provide for her family when her blind dad can no longer support them.

Vermeer’s household consists of his consistently pregnant wife Catharina (Essie Davis), her controlling mother Maria (Judy Parfitt) and their expanding brood of children. But, it is Griet’s presence that creates a stir when it becomes obvious that she is the only one in the house with an appreciation and understanding of Vermeer. Their unspoken connection is in distinct contrast to the various people who play a part in their lives, inside and outside Vermeer’s home.

It is clear that the lower class maid is gifted with natural artistic instincts and is attracted to both the painter and his works from the moment she walks into his workroom. Even a relationship with the butcher’s son, Pieter (Cillian Murphy) cannot detract from Griet’s growing fascination with her employer and his art.

When Griet is given the task of cleaning the windows in the artist’s studio, she takes concern in how the light piercing through the pane will affect his work. Griet’s natural perception and her demure manner and beauty quickly attract the attention of Vermeer to want to get closer to his servant, a move that his insecure wife and a spying daughter see as a means to cause trouble.  Add to the mix wealthy Van Ruijuen (Tom Wilkinson) a patron of the arts, and main source of financial resource who kept Vermeer busy with commissioned work, a fact the mother in law sees as a reason to keep their benefactor happy.  The lecherous older man, eager to cause some disruption when his advances to Griet are denied, demands that Vermeer create a portrait of the pretty servant knowing quite well the repercussions of his request.  Jealous wife aside, family matriarch Maria makes sure nothing stands in the way of financial gain, and therefore, asks Griet to pose for the portrait which, of course, became Vermeer’s famous masterpiece.

As in any good story there must be dramatic conflict. But, it is the underlying feelings between Vermeer and his muse who became his model, which are the basis of the film. The Girl With a Pearl Earring tells of repressed emotions and hidden longing by kindred spirits who share a similar passion.   Some may find it boring, since it unfolds in a slow pace. But, the attention to details as fine as the genuine look and feel of 17th century Holland along with daily tasks and personal manners, is brilliantly recreated.  And, the sexual tension is undeniable. A simple task as mixing colors, shared by artist and his inspiration becomes a sensual act when their fingers brush against each other ever so slightly. When Griet lets Vermeer pierce her ear so that she can pose wearing the pearl earring, it is a metaphor for unrealized sexual consummation.

Like the actual painting, The Girl With a Pearl Earring is a masterpiece, an “art” film in the truest sense; a stunning “cultured” pearl, much to be appreciated.

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