Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Cillian Murphy
Very Beautiful. Very Dull.
I really want to give this film a higher rating. I really do. Visually it is stunning, but story-wise it is possibly the most emotionally un-engaging film...Ever.
'Girl With a Pearl Earring' has the makings of a wonderful film: The cast is very strong, the location is wonderful, the Art Direction is absolutely breathtaking, and the novel by Tracy Chevalier provides a decent jumping off point. So what happened?
True, the story is not necessarily meant to be a riveting one...Focusing on Johannes Vermeer and the poor servant girl who (supposedly) posed for one of his most famous paintings, it's meant to be subtle and so it is.
But 20 minutes into the film minutes I still don't have any real sense of my main character: Who is she? What does she want? What are her hopes, fears, aspirations...anything! Griet says next to nothing, which is fine as far as that goes...but she also communicates nothing.
The first real glimmer of interest and independent thought occurs when she hesitates over washing the windows in Vermeer's studio, worrying that it may affect the light. It was a wonderful glimpse of a complex and compelling character.
Unfortunately these moments are few and far between.
There are many unspoken thoughts and longing glances to be sure, and while these hint at some hidden emotion just below the surface they just can't be expected to support the entire film. The characters are too tragically under-developed for that to really work (which is probably for the best, as it ultimately amounts to nothing).
That being said, I am the first to admit that I am again the minority. Most people tend to really enjoy this film...and technically speaking it is beautifully made. To own the truth, it's an absolute treat to watch.
Emotionally, however, it falls well short of the mark.
DVD Worthy? Rent it first, and if you're still tempted go for the British (Region 2) version if you can...the Extras are better.
Extras: Nothing of note on the current North American version.
Costumes: Set in 1660s Holland, the costumes are absolutely gorgeous in that they feel so wonderfully real. The class distinctions are clear and extreme...the fact that they've got the beautiful Scarlett Johansson in a shapeless frock for the entire film is a testament to the realism in the costume design. Meanwhile Vermeer's wife wears some lovely gowns. The texture and colours are wonderful...also there's a great scene where she appears in a beautiful set of stays.
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