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This Film Is More Of An Oyster Than A Pearl
Girl With A Pearl Earring (DVD)
Member Name: littlepenguin
Girl With A Pearl Earring (DVD)
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*Film only review*
Girl with a Pearl Earring is a movie I've wanted to see for years. Seven years, in fact. Starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson and nominated for countless awards, I was sure it was going to be a success in my books.
Unfortunately, this was one of those films that is so worthy and high-brow that it's impossible to properly enjoy!
The plot is very simple. A young servant named Griet (Scarlett Johansson) starts working in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth). He soon spots her and she becomes his inspiration for a new painting. His Wife, Catharina (Essie Davis), has insecurities which lead to a jealousy of Griet, thus potentially interfering with Johannes's new work of art. There are also complications bought about by Johannes's patron, Pieter Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson) who has so much power and lust that he believes he can have anything he wants.
I found the character of Griet rather underwhelming. Scarlett Johansson has little dialogue for much of the film and her presence wasn't strong enough for me. She created a few moments of brilliance and yes, her role was convincing. However, I'd expected Johansson to give a show-stopping performance, after gaining such critical acclaim.
Griet, as the main protagonist, takes the most prominent journey, as her character becomes less quiet, less eager to please and undergoes a sexual awakening. I must admit, it was nice to see her get some colour in her cheeks, as she discovers the joys of painting and an old-fashioned camera.
Her character has two main relationships of differing intensities, with both Johannes and the Butcher's son, Pieter, played by Cillian Murphy.
The role of Peiter was not particularly original, (you know, the typical boy-meets-girl, girl isn't sure, but eventually gets with boy) but I felt Murphy did the best with what he was given. His character was clear and his playful nature charming. Also, I think his youthful, almost elvish looks and bright blue eyes bought something additional to his scenes, whilst contrasting effectively with Johannes Vermeer.
Colin Firth filmed Girl with a Pearl Earring in the same year as Love Actually. He certainly looked the part of the creative painter, which his striking long hair helped with. It reminded me of Johnny Depp too, which is never a bad thing!
The relationship between Johannes and Griet is so gradual that I seldom felt excited or captured by it. There are moments of tension that are somewhat interesting, but they never go anywhere, which is particularly frustrating viewing.
The age gap between the characters is never mentioned, but as Griet looks so very young, I think it would be fair to question Johannes's motivations. There are hints to him being turned off by his wife because of her more mature age, whereas it is made clear that Griet is, shall we say, "pure." Nevertheless, this romantic liaison is never really presented as anything even slightly malicious, which I find to be questionable.
Essie Davis as Catharina fulfils her role adequately. Although initially cold and heartless, we begin to understand and feel some sympathy towards the character as the story progresses.
Tom Wilkinson was perhaps underused as the only sort of villain in the tale. One scene he is in is rather shocking, but other than that I didn't feel the character was essential to the plot.
I was quite surprised how much the age of the DVD showed! Considering its only seven years old, the picture quality was significantly worse then films released more recently. Looking at this from a positive perspective, at least it shows how far we've come on.
I wasn't sure about all the costumes. For a period piece, I just felt like some of them jarred slightly, seeming too odd or extravagant.
Although Girl with a Pearl Earring is set in 1665, the language was easy to understand. I reckon all members of the family would have a fair understanding of what was going on, but I don't think many would be fully entertained by it. Especially those with a shorter attention span!
The film takes quite a little while to get going and when it does its still at a snail pace. Pace is certainly the main element of this movie which could have definitely been improved!
The music was regularly dismal and sometime was too noticeable. Therefore rather than creating a subtle effect, it tended to dominate.
The lighting was better than average and often did very well to enhance the overall mood of a scene. For instance, the bright warmth of the feast suggested wealth and security. This then contrasted excellently with the following scene set in the grey cobbled streets in the pouring rain -something that the servants had to brave no matter what.
Most scenes, however, were rather dull and many were very similar to one another. I do remember one scene with a difference though. It was beautifully shot, soaring over a lake and darting in between trees, before gracing itself upon Pieter and Griet.
Even the best performance displayed pretty standard acting ability. I am someone who quite likes dramas, but this one definitely needed a bit of comedy to spice things up.
As you can probably tell, this was a film that I was less than impressed with. Girl with a Pearl Earring lacks lots of thing, but largely I think the story was unoriginal and predictable. I wanted to like this film, but it was near impossible. Not recommended.
Summary: A let down.