The Girl With the Pearl Earring

No, I didn't read the book. Maybe I should have before I saw the movie. I felt that my understanding of Vermeer would suffice.

The movie is filled with scenes of the beautiful Scarlett Johansson perching her lips and acting subservient, starring at Vermeers paintings secretly and being surprised when someone sneaks up on her. It must have happened eight or nine times throughout the movie. You're constantly waiting for something to happen. It doesn't and thats not all together bad. Vermeer's mysterious reputation is left intact. He is disturbed, distracted, and dis-something else, fitting most of the steroetypes attributed to artists. I suppose my expectations were too high. I was hoping the movie would make the paintings of Vermeer more beautiful or poetic as the case may be. I like the spin on the painting's origins and the small story that follows. It's a creative idea that puts the painting into context.

The movie's cinematography is exceptional. The cold silver blue walls and the dramatic Chiaro-scuro lighting are amazing, and come to life when splashed with the occasional bright red chair or glowing yellow shawl. The movie helps you to see the world as Vermeer did.

But, like Total Eclipse (the movie about Arthur Rimbaud), the movie focuses on the relationship Vermeer has with the girl in the painting. There are a couple of scenes where Vermeer gives us some small insight into his paintings. He asks Scarlett what color the clouds are. She first responds white, but upon closer inspection she answers yellow and grey and brown and white. There is another instance where Scarlett looks at the painting and says the colors are all wrong and he explains to her how they are only base colors that will be layered with glazes of blues and yellows. But all in all, I feel that Vermeer would be disappointed with the movie (as would Rimbaud). At the end of the movie there is a long still shot of The Girl With the Pearl Earring that reminds us to never make a movie about an artist or his paintings. There are certain things that can not be improved upon. Vermeer's paintings are one of them.