"Girl with a Pearl Earring"
Directed by Peter Webber.
Written by Olivia Hetreed. Based on the novel by Tracy
Starring Scarlet Johansson, Colin Firth and Tom Wilkinson.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 2/12/04
Continuing the saga that has become Oscar
Catchup Month, I had to drag myself to a theater to see this film;
this past Sunday, I was driving to the theater and I still couldn’t
make myself watch this thing, so I went home and played video games
But, I have to admit, “Girl with a Pearl
Earring” kept me vividly entertained for its entire running time.
Based on a novel which I will most assuredly never read, an
obsessive artist named Vermeer (Colin Firth) is commissioned by a
nasty, overly flirtatious rich guy (Tom Wilkinson) to paint a
portrait of Vermeer’s new hand servant Griet (Scarlett Johansson).
Even though Griet keeps to herself and says only about 50 words the
entire film, she is a lightning rod for household
controversy—Vermeer’s wife (Essie Davis) hates her, Vermeer’s child
Cornelia hates her, the wife’s mother hates her...but, the butcher
and his assistant Peter (Cillian Murphy) love her, the other house
servant loves her, and of course, Vermeer adores her...but, why? Is
it for her simple looks? Or, is it much more than that?
Maybe the book tells us that last one,
because as it is, the story we are left with doesn’t take the time
to fill in all the holes. But, there is so much to marvel at with
this film; its look and use of colors is perfect in setting a mood
for each scene, the costumes are great (love that 10-gallon hat that
Wilkinson is sporting in the film’s last half-hour), the score is a
perfect match to the onscreen action and the performers feel like
they are living it up in 1660s Europe. Everyone was hyped on
Johansson’s performance in
“Lost in Translation”, but I think her
acting is stronger in “Girl with a Pearl Earring”...her nuances, and
just the work she does with her eyes and lips, almost make this
movie worth seeing on their own. I still think she looks much like
an alien (or Sam Cassell of the Minnesota Timberwolves...YOU make
the call) but she sure can act, even if an alarming number of her
parts seem to have something to do with older men and their interest
in her. Maybe I just don’t get it.
Firth and Wilkinson are both strong, and I
really enjoyed Davis’s performance as the pitiful, scorned
housewife. Really, in the movies, a woman scorned just doesn’t get
old to me. Davis (who appeared in both “Matrix” sequels last year)
has it all down pat: the jealous looks, the nose up to society, the
desperate need for attention. Oh, I was just lapping this up by the
time she blows her top at the end. Love it!
Also, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” might have
the most “I’m going to lean around this corner and look into the
next room while no one notices me” shots in history. Seriously, I
think every major character has at least one scene where they peer
around a doorway, window or other obstacle to see what another
character is doing in the next room. Maybe that’s how everyone did
it back in the mid-1600s. Okay, I doubt it, but it made me laugh
every time I saw Griet leaning around an ajar door to see what
Vermeer was doing; I have never done that in real life, but it seems
like in the movies, that’s all characters ever do.
“Girl with a Pearl Earring” feels more like
style than substance, but if that style is executed with near
perfection, well that’ll get your film nominated for four Academy
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard