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Obsessed by her beauty, Vermeer insisted on using her as the subject for one of his works, much to the horror and chagrin of his jealous and shrewish wife. Despite the domestic havoc it caused, the collaboration between artist and subject resulted in one of the genuine masterpieces of the art world.
Visually, this film could not be more stunning. Thanks to luminous cinematography, art direction and costume design, the audience watching this film feels almost as if it has been transported into a Vermeer work.
Director Peter Webber recreates every element of that world in loving detail, right down to his choice of actress Scarlett Johansson, who is a dead ringer for the model in the original portrait. Despite the exquisite look of the film, the characters seem strangely underdeveloped, most especially Vermeer himself, who remains frustratingly superficial throughout.
Thanks mainly to his taciturn moodiness, we never get to know much of what he is thinking or feeling.
Griet is only slightly more fully developed, although, in her case, we can at least ascribe this lack of information to the restrictions placed on her by her station in life and the society of her time. Unlike Vermeer, Griet was conditioned by the world around her to be a passive observer. But Vermeer needs to be a more dynamic presence in the story.
One admires the fact that the filmmakers have remained truthful to the spirit of the enterprise, refusing to indulge in cheap melodramatics to make the story more salacious and scandalous than in truth it really was.
Yet, in dramatic terms, such integrity comes with a price, for the film often has the effect of lulling rather than stimulating us, of raising our expectations then failing to fully satisfy them.
Was this review helpful to you?Jan 16, · Watch video · This film, adapted from a work of fiction by author Tracy Chevalier, tells a story about the events surrounding the creation of the painting "Girl With a Pearl Earring" by 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer/10(K).
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