Girl With a Pearl Earring
2003 | Docudrama | 100 minutes | English
Griet, a young 17th-century girl, arrives in the household of the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer in the city of Delft, to work as a maid. As Griet cleans Vermeer’s studio, she becomes fascinated by his artistry. Vermeer teaches her how to mix paints and helps her understand painting, light, and color. Vermeer’s rich patron, Pieter van Ruijven, notices Griet on a visit to the Vermeer household and he requests that Vermeer’s next painting be of Griet. Secretly, Vermeer begins working on the painting. He has Griet wear a blue headscarf and convinces her to pierce her ear so he can insert his wife’s pearl earring. When the painting is completed, Catharina, Vermeer’s wife is outraged. She not only is jealous and suspicious of their time together, but notices that Griet is wearing her earring. She calls the painting “obscene” and orders Griet to leave the house. The film ends with the full portrait display of the Girl With a Pearl Earring.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 87%
- Metacritic Score: 87
Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Art Direction (Ben van Os); Best Cinematography (Eduardo Serra); Best Costume Design (Dien van Straalen)
British Academy Film Awards: Nominated, Best Film; Best Actress (Scarlett Johansson); Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Judy Parfitt); Best Cinematography (Eduardo Serra)
Golden Globe Awards: Best Actress (Scarlett Johansson)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Winner, Best Cinematography (Eduardo Serra)
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An intelligent, visually ravishing adaptation of the Dutch master Vermeer and the model for one of his most famous paintings. Peter Webber’s first feature evokes the world the artist inhabited 340 years ago while deftly delineating the personal intrigue within his household.
I can think of many ways the film could have gone wrong but it goes right. It doesn’t cook up melodrama and romantic intrigue but tells a story that’s content with its simplicity. The painting is contemplative, reflective, subdued, and the film must be, too: We don’t want lurid revelations breaking its mood.
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