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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.03%
Worth A Look45.16%
Average: 14.52%
Pretty Bad: 6.45%
Total Crap: 4.84%

3 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Girl with a Pearl Earring
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by EricDSnider

"Beautiful but silent and sullen, like dating a German chick."
3 stars

The historical costume drama "Girl with a Pearl Earring" dazzles the eye with its beautifully photographed Dutch scenery and 17th-century apparel, while dulling the senses, perhaps, with its slow-moving story and inscrutable protagonist. It is as gorgeous as a painting, and almost as motionless.

Scarlet Johansson plays Griet, a poor teenage girl sent to work as a maid and cleaning woman in the home of master artist Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth). While the missus (Essie Davis), forever pregnant, has a "don't speak unless spoken to" attitude toward the hired help, as does her imperious, Skeletorian mother (Judy Parfitt), Vermeer himself is much kinder. He comes in contact with Griet when she is assigned to clean his studio, and he sees potential in her, as a student, perhaps as a subject.

It is the latter that causes a rift with Vermeer's wife, who doesn't understand art, much less why her husband would want a common servant to pose for a painting. Vermeer's salacious patron Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), meanwhile, capricious in his decisions to commission or not commission work from the artist, has his own designs.

Yet for all the plot I have just described, the film has the feel of having very little. Written by Olivia Hetreed (from Tracy Chevalier's novel) and directed by Peter Webber, the movie proceeds at a snail's pace, going for lengthy stretches without even indicating what direction it's traveling.

Johansson is part of the problem. Griet's position requires she be silent and obsequious most of the time, which translates into long pauses before answering questions or indeed before taking action of any kind. It is maddening, almost, to witness what ought to be simple exchanges between her and her employers being extended into great chasms of hesitation and uncertainty.

It also makes it difficult to relate to Griet as a character, particularly since, even in her off hours -- as when she is courted by a butcher's son named Pieter (Cillian Murphy) -- she gives little indication that she is ever any different from the cowed, intimidated creature she is at the Vermeer home. Here's a movie that is so determined to remain respectable and artsy that it dilutes itself into tepid, tedious mush.

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originally posted: 08/08/05 17:29:27
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User Comments

4/02/12 Rose of Washington SQ "...unfulfilled sexual tension" WHERE? "...W.C. where are you? 1 stars
3/11/11 Gwen Yes, a W C Fields movie without the laughs, except for Colin Firth in a fright wig. 2 stars
2/22/10 carol miles Not knowing about Vermeer, an unfunny version of a WC Fields pc was made in its place. 2 stars
7/20/08 R.W. Welch Rather a thin story but good depiction of the era. 3 stars
5/14/08 davidmack visually beautiful throughout 4 stars
3/10/08 mb Interesting mannerisms from some characters but otherwise dead movie. 2 stars
12/01/06 SabresFanatic Brillant, Beautiful, Haunting 5 stars
5/10/06 Luke A beautiful story, however I'm unsure whether the film did justice to the novel... 4 stars
5/03/06 Ashley Hinz I hated this. Trash. 1 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Johansson is perfect. 4 stars
6/12/05 Jeanne Gorgeous! Essie Davis is a brilliant, atonal symphony of stupidity & malice as Mrs. Vermeer 5 stars
2/26/05 Mia Griggs The book is much better but it was fun to see it on film. 4 stars
2/06/05 axe palatable, but of no consequence. let us not ignore dangers to pearl (or lobster) divers 3 stars
12/16/04 ALYX it was just okay, my wife didn't enjoy it though 4 stars
11/24/04 Erika Amazing! 5 stars
11/12/04 ANDREA END Artisticall shot,with lighting just like the Vermeer painting 4 stars
8/25/04 Phil M. Aficionado Conveyed a sense of time and place, beautifully, and slowly. 4 stars
8/19/04 Ryan Beautiful and pointless, much like life... 4 stars
8/08/04 kishan good 4 stars
6/19/04 Enid A Gorgeous movie throughout (the score, acting, cinematography, direction, everything) 5 stars
6/09/04 S.F. Quite perfect. 5 stars
6/01/04 maggie visuallysuperb extremely slowdidnt do johansen justice 3 stars
5/05/04 A F I'm a male, I was spelbound by this amazing masterpiece. I think I'll buy it! 5 stars
3/17/04 Dianne Hurley I enjoyed it, but my husband thought it was too much of a chick flick 4 stars
3/17/04 your worst goddamn nightmare wow, a very subtle and intense film... need to watch it with my girl :-] 5 stars
3/06/04 john bale Classic photography, sense of period, but intrigue in the Vermeer family is not riveting 4 stars
2/29/04 jimmy two times Highly uneffective. Great cast. Johansson beautiful and talented. But weak story. 2 stars
2/28/04 Chandra Movie paled in comparison to the beautiful book by Chevalier. 4 stars
2/22/04 Linda A+++++ Colin Firth,need I say more. I've seen it 5 times and am going back for more. 5 stars
2/21/04 abludayzie great period piece, tells the fictional story well, great for art fans, but not connoseurs 5 stars
2/01/04 Marce A bit more background info would have been better, but it was just so beautiful to look at! 5 stars
1/19/04 Roger Fiander A pleasure to find a film adaptation so true to the book 5 stars
1/17/04 Eileen Captivating, intensem passionate 5 stars
1/17/04 Katie It was gorgeous! I'm a complete Vermeer fan now 5 stars
1/16/04 Jeremy Whelehan Do not miss this - What cinema is all about 5 stars
1/14/04 alfred confusing if seen radonly 4 stars
1/13/04 carlos a marvelous movie 5 stars
1/12/04 diana If you love art and are a visual person, this is an excellent movie. Not an action/adventu 4 stars
1/10/04 Susan Didn't have to read the book or know about art to appreciate this movie! 5 stars
1/01/04 eddie mc beautifully shot but, only of interest for Vermeer fans, yes, Im one. 4 stars
12/24/03 katsat Beautiful and subtle, with its unfulfilled sexual tension & the "interior" acting 5 stars
12/19/03 mystikal nicely written drama, 4 stars
12/16/03 lycan boring movie 1 stars
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  12-Dec-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-May-2004



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