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Sunday, September 25, 2011

ART FILM FEATURE: GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING





Movie Review
Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)
December 12, 2003

FILM REVIEW; Painting Interiors of the Heart, With Eros in Restrained Hues
By ELVIS MITCHELL
Published: December 12, 2003

At the start of ''Girl With a Pearl Earring,'' Griet (Scarlett Johansson) is shown peeling an onion, an image as metaphor rarely seen outside first-semester filmmaking classes. The determination visible in such an effort communicates Importance Writ Large. And the film, adapted by Olivia Hetreed from Tracy Chevalier's novel, does have a great subject: the story surrounding an artwork shrouded in mystery and a project that ruins a woman's reputation yet ensures her a place in history.

This film, which opens today in New York and Los Angeles, is the imagined tale of Griet, a maid who became the muse of Johannes Vermeer and the subject of his painting ''Girl With a Pearl Earring.'' Ms. Johansson is photographed so that her skin is as opalescent as her earring, but the movie is opaque. It is an earnest, obvious melodrama with no soul, filled with the longing silences that come after a sigh.

Yet the care that has gone into making ''Earring,'' a dexterous and absorbing visual re-creation of the lighting and the look that Vermeer achieved in his work, is a tribute to the director Peter Webber's own group of artisans, the cinematographer Eduardo Serra and the production designer Ben van Os. The gorgeous score, by Alexandre Desplat, brushes in a haunted gloom that gives the picture life where none seems to exist. This is the kind of film that would prompt the movie industry trade papers to say ''technical credits above par.''

The teenage Griet is sent off to earn a living because her blind father can no longer support her. The onion she is opening at the story's start is part of the last meal she prepares at home before being shipped off. Her separation anxiety registers so fully throughout the film that it should be listed in the cast of characters as the credits roll. Anxiety permeates the movie like fear of punctures in a Freddy Krueger film. The household that Griet joins is filled with noisy, spoiled children who look down their noses at her. The mistress of the house, Catharina (Essie Davis), is about to add another mouth to the brood.

Reaf full article here.

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