A Movie Review: Girl with a Pearl Earring

The movie is Peter Webber’s adaptation of a novel by Tracy Chevalier about the brilliant artist, Johannes Vermeer.

Girl with a Pearl Earring is wonderfully crafted and captivating. Much credit should go to the production people behind it, as they successfully made each scene look like a painting. That way, they are being faithful not just to the book where the movie came from, but to the brilliant artist who once lived in the person of Johannes Vermeer. The movie in general was an impressive work of art and a fitting tribute to a remarkable artist.

What I like the most about the movie is their choice of music, which is just appropriate for the 17th century Delft. It is also noteworthy that they had a girl in the cast, Grit (Scarlett Johansson), who was made to really look like Vermeer’s painting, as if destiny (and perhaps good cosmetics) had made it happen.

The movie effectively shows Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth)’s character as a generally silent man. He spent a lot of time just standing silently and studying his environment from different unnoticeable corners. This is perhaps symbolic of his innate traits as a man.

In spite of his nature, Vermeer was coerced to attend grand gatherings for the purpose of his art recognition. However, he needed much solitude if he could only decide for himself. Except there was not a lot of choices for him. After all, he needed the pompous gatherings demanded by the elite Venetian society to earn a living for his family and himself. It is interesting to note that when he died in 1675, he already had eleven (11) children.

Come 1665, Johannes Vermeer painted a mysterious masterpiece, a painting of an unidentified model who obviously posed for him. In the past, there had been a few guesses and detailed theories that settled on believing that the painting was that of one of Vermeer’s daughters. Nothing has been confirmed, though. This is where the movie spins with much interesting twists.

Then Griet (Scarlett Johansson) was introduced.

Grit was lovely and attractive, and it shouldn’t be hard to imagine why an artist that is naturally drawn to beauty would be interested in her.

Griet, like Vermeer, is one who is no stranger to solitude. But unlike the solitude of Vermeer, Griet’s solitude has a lot to do with her unfortunate status in the discriminating Delft caste system.

Vermeer and Griet formed a bond, which culminated in his creating a painting of her. The scene where he shows her his work of art was moving. Both actors were very convincing and the lines they said were sensitive for the human mind.

When Griet tells Vermeer, ‘You’ve seen into me,’ the connection was more than exposed. It was celebrated.

The film, overall, is remarkable and definitely worth watching. Some scenes — like when Vermeer was teaching Griet the trick of playing with the light for capturing realistic art — were unforgettable.

The film’s cinematographer Eduardo Serra, production designer Ben Van Os, and art director Christina Shaeffer, all deserve a round of applause for having created a moving picture out of the still paintings of a genius.