… PAINTS A THOUSAND ERS … The writing in Girl with a Pearl Earring was so awful – and Scarlett Johanson’s word-swallowing mumble so unremitting – that Dr Vick and I began speculating if it wasn’t a ploy of some kind: “We want NOTHING to detract from the loveliness of our scene-by-scene recreations of Vermeer’s paintings…” What, not even the wall-to-wall blandness of address, stupidity of execution and contrivedness of pretext? Not even the fact that every single relationship in this TERRIBLE film was off-register – obviously its director won’t have met many 17th-century dutchfolk, but surely he has occasionally encountered SOME HUMAN BEINGS SOMEWHERE!!?? The idea’s not bad – the making of a masterpiece, and how compromised and contradictory its actual genesis might have been; the domestic politics of an artists’s household when a patron’s must be serviced – but I’ve seen the topic of the jealousy of artist’s wife for artists’s model done (way) more incisively in a made-for-TV Hercules Poirot!! Colin Firth as Vermeer was a vacant blob (as usual); S.Johanson’s pale gobliny face was bizarrely incompetently directed (she was allowed to – or asked to – smile her little private-joke smile all the time, but the whole thrust of the story was that she DIDN’T know what was going on); everyone else was made to look red-faced ugly or red-faced unlikeable or both. The only cliffhanger came where it looked as if SJ (as the maid) was going to start doing some of one of Vermeer’s best-known paintings for him – which wd have been an excellent, amusing, anti-reverential twist – but no, it wz just more unreadable business leading nowhere. Not a single Dutch name is pronounced right (Vick is inured to this in the UK but said this was abnormally useless and lazy…wd an arthouse movie be so cavalier w.French?) The music is a direct rip of one of Wong Kar Wai’s films (I think Chungking Express). It was always kind of obvious this film was going to be dreadful: as a result I wz fighting quite hard to find a way to like it. But all my hard-mustered contrarian perversity failed me.