Girl with a Pearl Earring


Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Dancing on the edge of dullness, ''Girl'' is continually saved by the look of things: the hush of an atelier in midafternoon, dust-motes swirling in a sunbeam, pigment blooming under mortar and pestle. Impatience is forestalled, time and again, by rapture.
  2. If movies were still silent, Girl With a Pearl Earring would be a near-masterpiece.
  3. The period detail is more vibrant than the minimal story.
  4. 100
    A quiet movie, shaken from time to time by ripples of emotional turbulence far beneath the surface.
  5. What distinguishes Girl With a Pearl Earring is its combination of refined filmmaking and Johansson's exquisitely understated acting. It partakes of Vermeer's spirit and style, and that makes it one of the year's best movies.
  6. It's beautiful to look at, and yet the story is strangely lacking; the novel's first chapter, available online at author Chevalier's Web site,, seems to contain more plot points than the entire film.
  7. Reviewed by: Natasha Aitken
    one of the rare book adaptations that actually benefits from a visual makeover.
  8. The actress (Scarlett Johansson) gives a nearly silent performance, yet the interplay on her face of fear, ignorance, curiosity, and sex is intensely dramatic.
  9. 80
    Webber spins a slight but considerably enchanting tale of impossible romance and artistic discovery.
  10. Even if Girl With a Pearl Earring is not nearly as remarkable dramatically as it is visually, it is, finally, a film of great beauty, and that is something worth appreciating.
  11. Does an uncommonly good job of summoning all that goes into a masterpiece - erotic tension, financial considerations, even the sensual, elaborate grinding and mixing of paint colors as per 17th-century requirements.
  12. Laughably predictable in its plotting, crude in its symbolism, ploddingly paced and often rendered almost comical by the heavy-breathing overacting of Johansson's supporting cast.
  13. Girl With a Pearl Earring is really about watching paint dry. S l o w l y.
  14. 83
    Johansson, fittingly, is the focus. In her face, as in the faces of Vermeer's handful of captivating subjects, the viewer intuits whole stories and worlds.
  15. 75
    The film is well-paced and surprisingly suspenseful.
  16. 75
    One of those films that does many things right, and that places it among the year's best period pieces. It's a cut above the usual BBC costume drama.
  17. 75
    Near the end, when Griet puts on that earring and Johansson magically morphs into the figure on that canvas, you'll be knocked for a loop.
  18. There are certain rare movies that speak to us solely through the power and initiative of their visuals. This is one of them, and if you're receptive to this kind of movie, and know Vermeer's work, it's an unusually satisfying, even enriching experience.
  19. 80
    Webber displays a great sense of understatement and a keen eye for careful framing, with cinematographer Eduardo Serra beautifully re-creating Vermeer's signature play of shadow and light.
  20. It isn't an exciting work of art so much as a contemplative reverie on the nature of art -- and what's wrong with a smart essay that unfolds like a sweet dream?
  21. This is an art film in spades.
  22. The most enchanting point about cinematographer Eduardo Serra work here is that he hasn't put Vermeer's painting into the film; he has put the film into Vermeer.
  23. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Look closely at immaculate period performance. [15 December 2003, p. 119]
  24. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A rich gem expertly told in a surprisingly scant 95 minutes.
  25. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    An intelligent, visually ravishing adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's best-selling novel.
  26. 70
    Wide-eyed, open-mouthed, and silently beseeching, she's (Johansson) even more a screen for projection here than in "Lost in Translation"; surrounded by a gaggle of over-actors, she glows with understatement.
  27. If the scope of the film feels small, Girl With a Pearl Earring fills that scope to bursting with subtle glory. It takes things as far as they can -- and should -- go.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 55 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 28
  2. Negative: 4 out of 28
  1. MarcusB.
    May 18, 2004
    It's a telling sign that so many viewers are criticizing this movie for its slow pace or lack of "plot". Since when do films absolutely It's a telling sign that so many viewers are criticizing this movie for its slow pace or lack of "plot". Since when do films absolutely have to have fast paced, clear-cut storylines that even the bridge and tunnel crowd can follow? This is the antithesis to the cookie cutter storylines normally coming out of Hollywood. No car chases, no magically satisfying ending where all is neatly tied together (Americans do love their happy endings...), no emphasis on triumph of the spirit (the "I can do it if I apply myself" illusion). Just life. Full Review »
  2. May 5, 2016
    Girl with a Pearl Earring proves that Scarlett Johansson can even save a movie by very impressive acting. See this only if you're in it forGirl with a Pearl Earring proves that Scarlett Johansson can even save a movie by very impressive acting. See this only if you're in it for her or if you want to see a great movie. Full Review »