Preview by: Jack Foley
ONE of the highlights of this year's London
Film Festival was The Girl with a Pearl Earring - first-time
director, Peter Webber's big screen adaptation of Tracy Chevaliers
The film tells the imagined story behind one of Vermeers
best loved paintings.
In 17th century Flanders, Griet (played by the rapidly emerging
Scarlett Johansson) is forced, by circumstance, to become a servant
in the artist, Vermeer's (Colin Firth) household.
Fascinated by his work, she soon displays an aptitude for helping
in his studio, and is drawn into his world of colour and light.
But the growing closeness between master and servant cannot go
unnoticed, and becomes a threat to the ordered household and to
Griets own respectability.
The ensuing story makes for an intriguing (if not always gripping)
screen adaptation, even though the reproduction of the period
and place are entirely convincing, aided in no small part by Eduardo
Revealing much about the social stratifications of the period,
and the relationship between creativity and commerce, this is
an essentially intimate tale, in which much is communicated through
looks, rather than words.
It is, perhaps, the greatest tribute to Webber's bravery as a
director that he opts to let his stars act, rather than overload
them with clumsy dialogue.
It is a point which both Firth and Johansson were keen to emphasise
at the London press conference for the film, held at the time
of the London Film Festival.
Hence, fans of Firth can look forward to another suitably brooding
turn from the actor, while the supremely talented Johansson, as
Griet, builds on the strong work she did in Lost
in Translation, to justify her reputation as one of Hollywood's
brightest young things - and all at the tender age of 19!
The film is described by one fan, on the London Film Festival
website, as 'breathtaking and brilliant', while Firth comes in
for special praise as 'the best actor living today'.
The film is due to open in the UK on January 16, when you can
expect extensive coverage of both the press conference, and the
movie itself. We shall be delivering our verdict then...
Hats off to first-time British director, Anand Tucker, for his
new movie, Girl With a Pearl Earring opened to widespread acclaim
in America on Friday, December 12, 2003.
Newsday, for instance, led the tributes, stating that
visually, the film is breathtaking. And Johansson, while
not looking much like the Girl with the Pearl, does achieve a
Vermeer- like sublimity, against which the ill winds of 1600s
While Entertainment Weekly noted that Johansson
gives a nearly silent performance, yet the interplay on her face
of fear, ignorance, curiosity, and sex is intensely dramatic.
The Hollywood Reporter lauded it for taking us deep
into the intimate realms of artistic inspiration, and the
Los Angeles Times noted that even if Girl With a
Pearl Earring is not nearly as remarkable dramatically as it is
visually, it is, finally, a film of great beauty, and that is
something worth appreciating.
The film tells of an imagined relationship between the artist,
Vermeer, and his servant, played by Scarlett Johansson, which
gave rise to the infamous painting.
And it is Johansson, hot off the heels of her no-less attention-grabbing
performance in Lost
in Translation, who draws a lot of the plaudits.
Village Voice, for instance, noted that as the imaginary
historical subject, Johansson holds her frequent close-ups with
While Apollo Guide noted that the look of the film
and its heartbreakingly appealing performance by Scarlett Johansson
make it worth seeing.
And the Blunt Review noted that Girl With a Pearl
Earring is simply stunning
Vermeer himself would be proud
of the hues and shades Scarlett Johansson brings to this fictional
account of his infamous work.
There were negatives, of course, headed by the New York Times,
which described it as an earnest, obvious melodrama with
no soul, filled with the longing silences that come after a sigh.
And from Slant Magazine, which opined that Peter
Webbers gorgeous Girl With a Pearl Earring is a work of
But the positives outweight the negatives, and the final word
goes to Reeling Reviews, which concluded that while
Girl with a Pearl Earring is a solid first entry for its director
it is, foremost, a film of stunning visual treatment.