Synopsis by Michael Hastings
The subject of one of Johannes Vermeer's most enduring portraits becomes the focus of this biographical period piece from director Peter Webber. Girl With a Pearl Earring is told from the point of view of Griet (Scarlett Johansson), a teenaged girl who leaves her family's care in the country to become a servant for the Vermeer household in the comparatively bustling, canal-laden burgh of Delft. When she arrives, she finds herself at the low end of the servant totem pole, until she's allowed to clean "the master's" painting quarters. There, she catches the eye of the taciturn, reclusive Vermeer (Colin Firth), and over a period of time, he begins to craft her portrait. Of course, this does little to further his relationship with his jealous, pregnant wife, Catharina (Essie Davis), or with his most vocal benefactor, van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), who often dictates what portraits Vermeer should paint. Meanwhile, Griet navigates a sweet, tentative relationship with a peasant boy her age (Cillian Murphy). Girl With a Pearl Earring had its North American premiere at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.
artist, benefactor, chambermaid, patron, pregnancy, servant, wife