Girl With a Pearl Earring

Poster for Girl With a Pearl Earring

Spring 2004 Main series

Sunday, April 4, 2004 at 4:00pm
Sunday, April 4, 2004 at 7:00pm
Monday, April 5, 2004 at 7:00pm

Empire Theatres, New Minas, NS

Directed by


Rated NR · 1h 35m
United Kingdom / Luxembourg

A Gala Presentation at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival, Girl with a Pearl Earring, based on the acclaimed novel by Tracy Chevalier, is a triumphant vision of exquisite beauty inspired by the Dutch master Vermeer’s beloved portrait of the same name. Peter Webber’s first feature reveals the tensions of the painter’s mid-seventeenth century home life in a mesmerizing tale told from the point of view of his striking young maidservant, Griet (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation). When young Griet arrives from the country to live and work in the household of Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth, Bridget Jones’ Diary), she encounters a cold welcome from the demanding and perennially pregnant lady of the house, Catharina (Essie Davis) and her tight-fisted, strict mother, Maria (Judy Parfitt). Vermeer himself is a brooding, distant figure, in between paintings and suffering from agonizing “painter’s block” which has everyone on edge. The matriarch Maria keeps the household afloat, lobbying hard for wealthy, seedy patron van Ruijven’s (Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom) support for Vermeer’s work. When Griet inadvertently captures Vermeer’s painterly and romantic interest, her growing fascination in painting and colour begins to inspire in him a new passion for his work. Despite their disparate backgrounds in class, age and religion, she represents for him a sanctuary from the stress of feeling imprisoned by the very society he so beautifully depicted in his paintings. Against his family’s wishes, the master asks Griet to pose for his new painting, arousing the jealousy and ire of the Vermeer household, particularly when he insists that, for the portrait, Griet wear a treasured family heirloom, a pearl earring. Their burgeoning relationship is further threatened when van Ruijven insists that Vermeer relinquish Griet to him as part of a patronage arrangement. Webber constructs a gloriously detailed vision of the period, full of soft, delicate light and photographed with all the sublime incandescence of the famous Vermeer portrait. Johansson transfixes with her subtle, hypnotic performance and her wide-eyed, full-faced beauty, matched equally by Firth’s magnetic intensity as the consummate colourist Vermeer. A sumptuous feast for the eyes, Girl with a Pearl Earring is romantic period drama at its best and an “art” film at its most fascinating.

“With concision and well-chosen detail, Peter Webber’s exceedingly accomplished first feature beautifully evokes the world the artist inhabited 340 years ago while deftly and discreetly delineating the personal intrigue within his teeming household.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

“It would be hard to overpraise Johansson – who could hardly look more perfect for the part – for her extraordinary ability to convey so much emotion with so few words.” – Jonathan Foreman, The New York Post

“Like stepping inside a Vermeer painting. The light, color and composition are eerily perfect.” – Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

“The movie takes us deep into the intimate realms of artistic inspiration.” – Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter