What You Need To Know:
(HH, L, V, SS, A. D, M) Humanist worldview with an undercurrent of forbidden lust and unrequited love within allegedly repressed Dutch society; one profanity and one obscenity; young woman slaps girl, man tries to rape young woman and leaves strangle marks on her neck; fully clothed intercourse and sexual references; no nudity; drinking; smoking; and, a faithless view of a religious culture.
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is visually stunning but also glacially slow. You could nod off without missing a beat. The story is a totally fictionalized supposition about the background story of a painting by Vermeer.
Very little is known about Vermeer. Set in 1665, this movie places him in a higher class than usual. It starts with the girl Griet being forced to leave her family home and become a maid for Vermeer because of her family’s poverty. Vermeer’s wife and daughter immediately resent Griet. Vermeer takes a liking to her, as does his patron, Master Van Ruijven. Although Vermeer never takes advantage of her, Van Ruijven tries to rape her. She has sex with the local butcher boy, Pieter. The question is whether she will remain Vermeer’s assistant, or whether Vermeer’s wife will kick her out.
The cinematography and casting are very good. Critics have commended it, while pointing out how slow and tedious its story is. The Hallmark movie, BRUSH WITH FATE does a much better job, however, of portraying Vermeer in a story that is captivating. It also has authentic photography and casting.
The downside of this movie is the fact that Holland at that time was a very religious culture and there were tremendous tensions between the Catholics and the Calvinists. While BRUSH WITH FATE stays true to the Christian ambience of the time, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING ignores it except for one reference by Griet’s mother that she shouldn’t listen to the prayers of the Catholics and one brief church scene where her boyfriend seeks her out.
The major focus in the movie is the sexual tension in the allegedly repressed Dutch society. Vermeer is clearly attracted to Griet, and Master Van Ruijven is openly lecherous. In spite of the cinematography, this humanist movie is not a wise use of time or money, especially compared to a beautiful film like BRUSH WITH FATE, although that movie was made for television.