The Girl With The Pearl Earring
2003 by Tony Medley
There was a
much-lauded movie earlier this year, Lost in Translation that I
thought was pretty average except for one exceptional performance.
Everyone else was drooling over Bill Murray’s performance as a bored
middle-aged guy in Japan. But even I could have directed Murray in this
role. “OK,” I’d say, “Bill, wake up. Look bored. Action!” It
didn’t take any genius to direct or to act.
OK, OK, Murray did a
good job of what was required of him. But it was his co-star, 19-year
old Scarlett Johannson, who was startling. She really had to act. What a
talent! For me she stole the show.
Girl With A Pearl
Earring is equally slow. But Johannnson’s performance in the title
role as Griet exceeds her performance in Lost in Translation.
Unlike the latter, in Girl she’s in almost every scene (why
Colin Firth gets top billing is a mystery). She plays a maid in the
household of legendary painter Johannes Vermeer (Firth) in 1665 when he
chose her to be the model for one of his most famous paintings. The film
is adapted from the novel by Tracy Chevalier, and it captures life in 17th
Century Amsterdam believably.
Vermeer is shown as
a weak autocrat in his matriarchal home where his mother seems to rule
the roost. Directed by Peter Webber in the style of a, well, a Vermeer
painting, the film would be of only average interest but for the
exceptional Johannson. Her performance as an attractive young woman
forced to work as a servant with virtually no rights, who has to fight
off a lecherous patron of Vermeer, Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), and deal
with the jealousies of the people living in Vermeer’s household, as
well as the attention of Vermeer himself, is brilliant. And she’s only
19 years old!
If I weren’t
already on the bandwagon for Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan for
Oscars for their performances in Freaky Friday, I’d throw my
hat in Johannson’s ring. But since the dopes who voted for Nicole
Kidman last year in a putrid, politically correct, single issue movie (The
Hours) for a role that couldn’t have had 30 lines (and required
nothing exceptional from Kidman other than wearing a prosthetic nose and
giving her sister a sexual kiss) over the Renée Zellweger performance
of a lifetime in Chicago still have a majority, I’d say that
not one of these three ladies has a chance to win well-deserved Oscars.
My bet is that since they apparently gave the Oscar last year to Kidman
when she clearly didn’t deserve it because they thought she deserved
it the year before, they’ll probably give the Oscar this year to
Zellweger, if nominated, since she clearly deserved it last year. Too bad the voters
don’t know and reward exceptional acting when they see it and when
December 26, 2003