Girl with a Pearl Earring
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"Delft, Holland, 1665. Seventeen-year-old Griet must work to support her family and becomes a maid in the house of Johannes Verneer, where she gradually attracts the master painter's attention. Johannes and Griet must hide their inspiration for each other from his volitile wife Catharina. The wealthy and troublemaking Master van Ruijven senses the intimacy between the artist and his maid and contrives a comission for Vemeer to paint Griet alone. The result will be one of the greatest paintings ever created, but at what cost?
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Into the house comes a new young maid, Griet (Scarlett Johansson). Griet is poor, shy, and illiterate. She is also hardworking, curious, and, to the surprise of Vermeer, has an instinctive grasp of the essentials of color, light, and composition in painting. Her assistance to his work draws the jealousy of Vermeer's bitter wife Katrina (Essie Davis), the hatred of one of the children, and the mischief-making of Master van Ruijven, who demands she be the subject of Vermeer's next painting.
Griet's life becomes complicated. She is an object of courtship for the handsome butcher's boy Pieter (Cillian Murphy), of sensuous inspiration for Vermeer, and of a crude rape attempt by van Ruijven. A quiet conspiracy to complete the painting without Katrina's knowledge is betrayed, leading to a fateful confrontation over Griet's status in the house.
"Girl with a Pearl Earing" has a solid cast, outstanding production values, and a subtle but intense plot centering on the young Griet. As a servant forbidden to speak unless spoken to, Scarlett Johansson's Griet compellingly portrays her moods and emotions through gesture and expression. Unglamorous in servant's clothing, scrubbed white skin, and work-roughened hands, the innocent act of removing her cap and letting down her long red hair in the presence of Vermeer becomes an unconscious intimacy. Of such well-crafted moments is made an excellent, highly recommended period movie.
BTW, no one knows to this day the true identity of the girl in the famous painting, which the Dutch refuse to EVER sell and is housed in one of their most historic museums.