Film Screening 24th August, 2004

Poster for Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring 

8:00 PM, 24th August, 2004

  • PG
  • 100 mins
  • 2003
  • Peter Webber
  • Olivia Hetreed
  • Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Essie Davis

Still, hushed, intimate. That describes both Vermeer's paintings and his house, at which Griet (Johansson) arrives to work as a maid. Vermeer (Firth) is drawn to her - she seems to instinctively understand his art, whereas to others in the family (especially his shrewd mother-in-law, wonderfully portrayed by Judy Parfitt) it is most importantly their livelihood. So they flatter and court his brutish patron Van Ruijven (Wilkinson), who decides he must have Griet, both on canvas and in the flesh. At the same time, Vermeer's wife Catharina (Davis) instinctively senses, and fears, his kinship with the girl.

But laid out in text, this is all too dramatic. The marvel of this movie is that it is so restrained; it immerses you so perfectly into the rhythms of life in 16th century Holland, the simple affairs of the household, the passing seasons, that it feels like a slowly unfolding flower. Everything is in the undercurrents, it is almost as if nothing happens.

And that is fine, because it is above all the luscious cinematography that makes this film. Shadowy interiors, back-lit doorways, light filtering from leadlight windows swallowed by heavy wood walls - it is a Vermeer. Truly this is a remarkable visual accomplishment, and this is a remarkable film.

Alan Singh