The Girl with a Pearl Earring

Release Date: December 12, 2003
Limited release

I think she'd rather have a pearl necklace.

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This uniquely premised movie is based on the novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, who drew her inspiration from the anonymous girl in Dutch master Jacques Vermeer's painting by the same name.

The story speculates on who the model is and why she has been painted, elaborating on what the girl's feelings might have been as she looks out from the painting with an enigmatic smile similar to that of the Mona Lisa. In the case of both book and movie, that girl is Griet (Scarlett Johansson), a 16-year-old Dutch girl employed as a maid in the Jacques Vermeer (Colin Firth) household. She is noticeably serene and discerning, and this quiet tranquility draws Vermeer's attention because they have much in common. He slowly draws her into the world of his paintings.

Meanwhile, when not working with the master of the house, Griet has to contend with her work amongst his chaotic Catholic family. The head of the family is Vermeer's volatile wife Catharina (Essie Davis), who is backed up by her canny mother Maria (Judy Parfitt) and their loyal head maid (Joanna Scanlan). Vermeer and his wife have six children, and their six-year-old daughter Cornelia (Alakina Mann of The Others) sees much more than she probably should. A Protestant by upbringing, the family's ways are strange and new to her, as her childhood was surrounded by love but her job brings her into contact with accident and death.

Griet is just on the edge of womanhood, and in addition to her work with Vermeer and his household, she is also dealing with the competing attentions of a local butcher (28 Days Later's Cillian Murphy) and Vermeer patron Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson). As the girl grows closer to her master and his work, their relationship spreads commotion and jealousy through the household. The rumors and innuendo spread to the outside world as well, where the scandal causes a bit of an uproar.

Lions Gate is releasing this film on a limited number of screens and has clearly targeted it as one of their likely awards contenders for the year. Johansson drew substantial attention for her performance in 2001's Ghost World, and Firth, Wilkinson, Murphy and the youthful Mann round out a very solid cast. Look for this film to draw some attention both for its somewhat controversial subject matter and the talent involved. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Girl with a Pearl Earring
Main Cast Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson
Supporting Cast Essie Davis, Alakina Mann, Cillian Murphy, Judy Parfitt
Director Peter Webber
Screenwriter Olivia Hetreed
Distributor Lions Gate
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Running Time 95 minutes
Screen Count 7
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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