And don't try to deny it, pumpkins (particularly those pumpkins of the male persuasion). I see the pain in your eyes, even when it's not allergy season. You're single and, all of a sudden, you've realized the sparkle has gone from your carefree bachelor existence.
Well, as Will Eisner once pointed out, every little bug has a honey to hug. The trick lies in finding the shortest possible path between you and the beehive (and making certain you don't get stung). Unfortunately you're in the mood for traditional romance. That ol' classic woo! And, doubly unfortunate, too many contemporary single women won't even open a door these days unless they first text the doorknob and send it a "friend" request.
(This probably goes far in explaining why so many contemporary women are single.)
However, Uncle Mikey . . . your Unkster . . . has got the solution right here. Yes, and you won't even have to send money to Ethiopia to take advantage of this surefire system. All you need is a theater, or a viewing room. Someplace where a crowd of people can watch a movie.
(Yes, it all sounds rather complicated. To which I reply: if True Love were easy then nine-tenths of the world's art would've ended up on the trash heap. I'm trying to find you a wife here. You want simplicity go microwave a burrito.)
Now . . .
Some background here. In 1665 the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer painted what many consider to be his masterpiece: "Girl with a Pearl Earring". At first glance it seems to be a rather simple portrait. Nothing immediately jumps out at you. However . . . for full-blown twelve-cylinder art snobs (such as myself), "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is a treat. A careful study presents the viewer with gently unfolding layers of subtlety. Some of the metaphysical imagery is particularly effective, and the interesting visual approach seems to counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the Vogonity . . .
Sorry. A little too much fun on New Year's Eve. But please, take my word for it, "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is one of those rare paintings that is deceptively simple, possessing a power to draw the eye to it again and again. You can find the painting online so check it out.
Fast forward to 1999. Author Tracy Chevalier writes a historical novel dealing with Vermeer's creation of the painting. It immediately goes to the "New York Times" Bestseller List and promptly sells over two million copies in thirty-six languages (which puts it just beneath "The Illustrated Star Trek Guide to Deanna Troi's Ever-Changing Neckline" in terms of popularity). Peter Webber ("Emperor", "Hannibal Rising") comes across the book, goes "wowsers" and immediately decides to adapt it into a movie.
(Okay, I don't really know if his immediate reaction to the novel was "wowsers". I'm also fairly certain Tracy Chevalier wasn't living next door to Vermeer either.)
With a screenplay by Olivia Hetreed, Webber begins work, demonstrating as much attention to detail as Vermeer might've lavished upon the painting. Eduardo Serra's cinematography consciously works to try and emulate the same color techniques that Vermeer favored, and the production crew were fortunate enough in that their location shots were areas of the Netherlands (and, in particular, the city of Delft) which vigorously preserved the 17th century look of Vermeer's world. All of this accompanied by the soundtrack of Alexandre Desplat's, the pacing of which is as careful as a brush on canvas.
The entire effort provides a rich stage for the actors to perform. Vermeer is played by Colin Firth, who seems to be physically incapable of making mistakes on the big screen. Under Webber's direction (and Hetreed's interpretation of Chevalier's novel), Firth takes Vermeer off the pedestal and gives us The Artist as Working Stiff (among other things, the movie provides a detailed look of the nuts and bolts of being a painter). Firth's job here is to remind us that artists are not gods and, quite often, the creativity which everyone admires is also a force that can destroy whoever possesses it. Not that Firth is given to the same histrionics as, say, Kirk Douglas in "Lust for Life". It's just that what most people pass off as day to day life can become hell for an artist. In Vermeer's case he also has to put up with a shrewish wife (Essie Davis), children who are practically begging to be stood up before a firing squad, and a calculatingly manipulative mother-in-law (Judy Parfitt . . . think of a 17th century Dutch version of the character of Rose from "Gypsy", only without the cow's head and the singing).
(Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems to me that Dutch painters are worshiped after they're dead, and treated like utter crap when they're alive. Anyway . . .)
Into this setting wanders Scarlett Johansson as Griet: a maid who's come to work at the Vermeer household. I have to confess right here and now I can watch Johansson in just about anything. If all she did was spend two hours changing light bulbs I would still pay admission to watch her. She has a wonderfully flexible quality which allows her to switch from earthy to ethereal practically at the touch of a button, and "Girl with a Pearl Earring" sets that talent out on a ten mile run. As Griet, Johansson is at the bottom of the heap in terms of the hired help in the Vermeer household (and pumpkins, in 17th century Holland that's a pretty lousy location. The only thing I can think of which would might possibly be worse would be a housemaid in medieval Japan). But one day, in the course of dusting Vermeer's private workspace, she happens to meet the artist himself. At this point a transformation begins to take place, and we see that Johannson wasn't chosen for the role simply for her acting ability (which is respectable). Vermeer decides to make Griet the subject of a painting (the titular one), and Johannson literally becomes the Girl with a Pearl Earring before our eyes.
Of course there's more to the story than just the creation of the painting. A popular and somewhat Tolkienesque adage among fantasy fans goes: "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup". Watching "Girl with a Pearl Earring", one ends up feeling that the adage can easily be adapted to read "Do not meddle in the affairs of Artists". Especially those with (A) jealous wives and (B) mothers-in-law who're honor graduates of the Borgia School of Getting Along with People. Firth's Vermeer is clearly captivated by Johannson's Griet (although not really in a sexual way. He simply sees the light within the girl and wishes to capture it). Vermeer's mother-in-law sees the girl as the means for her son-in-law to produce a meaningful (i.e. profitable) piece of art and so encourages the girl to secretly pose for the painting. Meanwhile everyone runs the risk of the whole arrangement being discovered by Vermeer's wife (who's just one chainsaw shy of a massacre if you catch mah drift . . . if you gets mah meanin'). In the middle of all of this is Johannson's character: struggling with her regular duties, fending off the advances of one of Vermeer's patrons, trying to obey the mother-in-law as well as help the artist and, above all of this, trying not to fall afoul of the wife. Under such circumstances Mother Teresa would've split for Argentina. Presuming Chevalier got it right in her novel it's a miracle the painting was finished in the first place. As it is it (and it's subject) become embroiled in what amounts to a gallery quality soap opera, and proves that sometimes it's better to watch artists at work than to actually be the artist.
(It also provides for several interesting scenes. Some involve Firth and Johannson quietly working side by side as she takes on the additional duty of Artist Assistant. And then there's the moment when Firth provides the crowning touch to the project: having Griet wear one of his wife's pearl earrings for the benefit of the painting. This is where Griet is truly at the eye of an emotional storm, and the scene where she finally succumbs to the placing of the earring glows with a heat almost bordering on the erotic.)
But, I believe I mentioned something about finding a wife. Here we go.
"Girl with a Pearl Earring" is slowly paced. Delft in the 17th century isn't a setting easily given over to car chases, and Vermeer didn't use PaintShop Pro to create his masterpieces. Not only that, but the Vermeer household wasn't the place in town everyone went to for keg parties.
So. Find a theater where the movie is being shown. A large television viewing room or video center. Anything. Just make sure it's filled with a lot of people (if you had the money I'd advise renting a place and offering free admission to, say, a hundred or more people).
Sit in the back of the location while the movie's being run and just be patient. Soon there'll be people leaving the theater in droves, saying things like "No fun" and "BO-ring" and going off in search of Snookitrash or something less meddlesome to the brain cells.
Wait. When the movie ends there should hopefully be at least one unattended girl remaining. She would've been sitting all by herself, watching the movie all the way through in rapt attention.
When she leaves follow her. She's the one you should marry. Trust Uncle Mikey, it'll be true love.