REVIEW: TRON: LEGACY

CAST

Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D.)
Garrett Hedlund (Unbroken)
Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
James Frain (Gotham)
Beau Garrett (Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Serinda Swan (Smallville)
Yaya DaCosta (Ugly Betty)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Jeffrey Nordling (Arrow)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Cillian Murphy (Inception)

Jeff Bridges in Tron (2010)In 1989, seven years after the events of the first film, Kevin Flynn, who has been recently promoted CEO of ENCOM International, disappears. Twenty years later, his son Sam, now ENCOM’s primary shareholder, takes little interest in the company beyond playing an annual prank on its board of directors.Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund in Tron (2010)After being freed from police custody for his most recent prank, Sam is asked by Alan Bradley, an ENCOM executive and Flynn’s old friend, to investigate a strange pager message originating from Flynn’s shuttered video arcade. Sam discovers a large computer in a hidden basement, which suddenly teleports him to the Grid, a virtual reality created by Flynn that exists within ENCOM’s computer mainframe.[6] He is quickly captured and sent to “the Games”, where he is forced to fight a masked program named Rinzler. When Sam is injured and begins bleeding, Rinzler realizes that Sam is a human “User” and takes him before Clu, the Grid’s corrupt ruling program who resembles a younger Kevin Flynn. Clu nearly kills Sam in a Light Cycle match, but Sam is rescued by Quorra, an “apprentice” of Flynn, who conveys him to his father’s hideout outside Clu’s territory.Garrett Hedlund, Beau Garrett, and Elizabeth Mathis in Tron (2010)Flynn reveals to Sam that he had been working to create a “perfect” computer system and had appointed Clu and Tron (a security program created by Bradley) its co-creators. During this construction, the trio discovered a species of naturally occurring “isomorphic algorithms” (ISOs) not conceived by Flynn, bearing the potential to resolve various mysteries in science, religion and medicine. Clu, considering them an aberration, betrayed Flynn, seemingly killed Tron, and destroyed the ISOs. Meanwhile, the “Portal” permitting travel between the two worlds had closed, leaving Flynn trapped in the system. Having gained complete control, Clu sent the message to Alan in order to lure Sam onto the Grid and reopen the Portal for a limited time. As Flynn’s “identity disc” is the master key to the Grid and the only way to traverse the Portal, Clu expects Sam to bring Flynn to the Portal so he can take Flynn’s disc, go through the Portal himself, and impose his idea of perfection on the human world.Michael Sheen, Garrett Hedlund, and Beau Garrett in Tron (2010)Against his father’s wishes, Sam returns to Clu’s territory on Quorra’s tip-off to find Zuse, a program who can provide safe passage to the Portal. At the End of Line Club, its owner Castor reveals himself to be Zuse, then betrays Sam to Clu’s guards. In the resulting fight, Flynn rescues his son, but Quorra is injured and Zuse gains possession of Flynn’s disc. Zuse attempts to bargain with Clu for the disc, but Clu simply takes the disc and destroys the club along with Zuse. Flynn and Sam stow away aboard a “solar sailer” transport program, where Flynn restores Quorra and reveals her to be the last surviving ISO.Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund in Tron (2010)The transport is intercepted by Clu’s warship; as a diversion, Quorra allows herself to be captured by Rinzler, whom Flynn recognizes as Tron, reprogrammed by Clu. Sam reclaims Flynn’s disc and rescues Quorra, while Flynn takes control of a Light Fighter on the flight deck. Clu, Rinzler, and several guards pursue the trio in Light Jets. Upon making eye contact with Flynn, Rinzler remembers his past and deliberately collides with Clu’s Light Jet, but Clu uses Tron’s spare baton to escape while Tron falls into the Sea of Simulation below. Clu confronts the others at the Portal, where Flynn reintegrates with his digital duplicate, destroying Clu along with himself. Quorra, having switched discs with Flynn, gives Flynn’s disc to Sam and they escape together to the real world. In Flynn’s arcade, Sam backs up and deactivates the system. He then finds a waiting Bradley and tells him he plans to retake control of ENCOM, naming Bradley chairman of the board. He departs on his motorcycle with Quorra, and she witnesses her first real sunrise.Tron (2010)TRON: Legacy is certainly the special effects extravaganza it’s been made out to be all year. Its fantastic effects certify the sequel as being the most visually appealing film of 2010. While the writing of the film isn’t quite as polished as the special effects, there certainly seems to be a good enough balance to keep the film afloat and deliver an extremely entertaining way to kill two hours. As far as eye candy goes, TRON: Legacy is an incredible and all around awesome experience.

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REVIEW: INTERMISSION

CAST

Colin Farrell (Phone Booth)
Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina)
Cillian Murphy (Red Lights)
Colm Meaney (A Belfast Story)
Shirley Henderson (Filth)
David Wilmot (King Arthur)
Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones)
Brían F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Conleth Hill (Serena)

titanic_1996_facebook_cover_by_thetitaniac-d6kjbf1The film opens with a cashier being charmed by Lehiff (Colin Farrell) who after flirting with the girl smashes her in the face and steals from the till. It quickly moves to John (Cillian Murphy) and Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald) who are a recently separated young couple. The film will revolve around their extended friends. It is quickly revealed that Lehiff is a petty criminal always involved in trouble. Lehiff’s nemesis, Garda Detective Jerry Lynch (Colm Meaney) who presents himself as a saviour whose main mission is to fight the “scumbags” on Dublin’s streets. He enlists the help of Ben Campion (Tomás Ó Súilleabháin), an ambitious film-maker and the bane of his “go-softer” boss, who considers Lynch too nasty a subject to be shown on a mainstream “docusoap” series on Irish television.
image-w1280Next up is Mick (Brian F. O’Byrne) a Dublin bus driver. While on his route Sally (Shirley Henderson) boards and is shown to be deeply insecure about her looks. She asks Mick about some hair on her lip and he mocks her playfully. As the bus journey continues a young boy called Philip is shown throwing a rock at his bus resulting in a bad crash that Ben winds up shooting the aftermath of. Ben is told to focus his attention on Sally, Deirdre’s sister, who helped the passengers after the double-decker bus crashed. She grows bitter when Deirdre flaunts her new boyfriend, Sam (Michael McElhatton), a middle-aged bank manager who has left his wife of 14 years, Noeleen, leaving her to question her own self-worth as a woman and wife.
maxresdefaultJohn is utterly lost without Deirdre and is determined to win her back. Mick having become suspended from his job and low on funds come up with a scheme involving Lehiff and Sam. They kidnap Sam and force him to go to his bank to get money for a ransom. Just as the plan seems to be working out everything goes wrong as Sam, is assaulted by his enraged wife Noeleen on the street and Gardai are forced to intervene. Mick and John flee the scene without their money. Mick, later loses his job after he is wrongfully blamed for the bus crash and he becomes obsessed with taking revenge on the kid behind it called Philip. After chasing the kid down in his car he loses control and is left balancing over the canal. Philip is sitting on the bonnet and jumps off letting the car drop into the canal. Detective Lynch chases down and corners Lehiff in an open field, and decides to take him on while Ben films everything. Unfortunately he miscalculates and Lehiff gets the upper hand and threatens to kill him. Ben snatches at the gun and shoots Lehiff and Lynch covers it all up. As the credits roll, Noeleen and Sam are shown to have reunited in their house watching television. She is sitting purposely on the remote control and bullying him into changing the channels by hand.intermission-2003This film was a little hard to get into as it had several story lines going on at once. However everything became clear when they all merged together. Classic Irish film with all the colourful language you would expect from the gritty working class people the film portrayed.

REVIEW: INCEPTION

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Tom Hardy (The Dark KNight Rises)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla)
Dileep Rao (Avatar)
Cillian Murphy (Red Lights)
Tom Berenger (Platoon)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Michael Caine (BAtman Begins)
Lukas Haas (Brick)
Talulah Riley (The Boat That Rocked)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)

Dominic “Dom” Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are “extractors”, who perform corporate espionage using an experimental military technology to infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and extract valuable information through a shared dream world. Their latest target, Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe), reveals that he arranged their mission himself to test Cobb for a seemingly-impossible job: planting an idea in a person’s subconscious, or “inception”.To break up the energy conglomerate of ailing competitor Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), Saito wants Cobb to convince Fischer’s son and heir, Robert (Cillian Murphy), to dissolve his father’s company. In return, Saito promises to use his influence to clear Cobb of a murder charge, allowing Cobb to return home to his children. Cobb accepts the offer and assembles his team: Eames (Tom Hardy), a conman and identity forger; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a chemist who concocts a powerful sedative for a stable “dream within a dream” strategy; and Ariadne (Ellen Page), an architecture student tasked with designing the labyrinth of the dream landscapes, recruited with the help of Cobb’s father-in-law, Professor Stephen Miles (Michael Caine). While dream-sharing with Cobb, Ariadne learns his subconscious houses an invasive projection of his late wife Mal (Marion Cotillard).When the elder Fischer dies in Sydney, Robert Fischer accompanies the body on a ten-hour flight back to Los Angeles, which the team (including Saito, who wants to verify their success) uses as an opportunity to sedate and take Fischer into a shared dream. At each dream level, the person generating the dream stays behind to set up a “kick” that will be used to awaken the other sleeping team members from the deeper dream level; to be successful, these kicks must occur simultaneously at each dream level, a fact complicated due to the nature of time which proceeds much faster in each successive level.The first level is Yusuf’s dream of a rainy Los Angeles. The team abducts Fischer, but they are attacked by armed projections from Fischer’s subconscious, which has been trained to defend against extraction. The team takes Fischer and a wounded Saito to a warehouse, where Cobb reveals that while dying in the dream would normally wake Saito up, the powerful sedatives needed to stabilize the multi-level dream will instead send a dying dreamer into “limbo”, a world of infinite subconscious from which escape is difficult and a dreamer risks forgetting they are in a dream. Despite these setbacks, the team continues with the mission. Eames impersonates Fischer’s godfather, Peter Browning (Tom Berenger), to suggest Fischer reconsider his father’s will. Yusuf drives the van as the other dreamers are sedated into the second level. In the second level, a hotel dreamed by Arthur, Cobb convinces Fischer that he has been kidnapped by Browning and Cobb is his subconscious protector. Cobb persuades him to go down another level to explore Browning’s subconscious (in reality, it is a ruse to enter Fischer’s).The third level is a fortified hospital on a snowy mountain dreamed by Eames. The team has to infiltrate it and hold off the guards as Cobb takes Fischer into the equivalent of his subconscious. Yusuf, under pursuit by Fischer’s projections in the first level, deliberately drives off a bridge and initiates his kick too soon. This removes the gravity of Arthur’s level, forcing him to improvise a new kick that will synchronize with the van hitting the water, and causes an avalanche in Eames’ level. Mal’s projection emerges and kills Fischer, Cobb kills Mal, and Saito succumbs to his wounds; all three fall into Limbo. While Eames sets up a kick by rigging the hospital with explosives, Cobb and Ariadne enter Limbo to rescue Fischer and Saito.Cobb reveals to Ariadne that he and Mal went to Limbo while experimenting with the dream-sharing technology. Sedated for a few hours of real time, they spent fifty years in dream time constructing a world from their shared memories. When Mal refused to return to reality, Cobb used a rudimentary form of inception by reactivating her totem (an object dreamers use to distinguish dreams from reality) and reminding her subconscious that their world was not real. However, when she woke up, Mal was still convinced that she was dreaming. In an attempt to “wake up” for real, Mal committed suicide and framed Cobb for her death to force him to do the same. Facing a murder charge, Cobb fled the U.S., leaving his children in the care of Professor Miles. Through his confession, Cobb makes peace with his guilt over Mal’s death. Ariadne kills Mal’s projection and wakes Fischer up with a kick. Revived at the mountain hospital, Fischer enters a safe room to discover and accept the planted idea: a projection of his dying father telling him to be his own man. While Cobb remains in Limbo to search for Saito, the other team members ride the synchronized kicks back to reality. Cobb eventually finds an aged Saito in Limbo and reminds him of their agreement. The dreamers all awaken on the plane and Saito makes a phone call.Upon arrival at Los Angeles Airport, Cobb passes the U.S. immigration checkpoint and Professor Miles accompanies him to his home. Cobb tests reality using his totem, a spinning top that spins indefinitely in a dream world, but ignores its result and instead joins his children in the garden.Christopher Nolan’s intelligent and complex SF movie is an intriguing thriller. similar to the director’s other perplexing movie, Memento, it is a film which rewards with each repeat viewing. Definitely a film to watch, probably more than once.

REVIEW: RED LIGHTS

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CAST

Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Robert De Niro (Limitless)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Craig Roberts (Young Dracula)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)

 

61ulpkqrdalThe film opens with two primary characters: university academic Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver), who investigates claims of paranormal phenomena, and her assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), a physicist. The audience is provided with an insight into the world of the opening section’s primary characters while concurrently observing the public reemergence of a psychic, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro).1

The ending of the film’s first half is signified by the sudden death of Matheson from a chronic vascular condition at the same time that one of Silver’s comeback performances takes place, an incident that is particularly significant due to the death of a former nemesis of Silver, a skeptic who investigated the psychic’s work, under similar circumstances. Matheson also had a previous encounter with Silver. She recounted a public meeting when Silver had, for an instant, got the best of her by bringing up the subject of her son’s spirit (her son was in a vegetative coma and on life support). Matheson agrees only to appear on a televised panel in anticipation of Silver’s return. Prior to her death, Matheson refuses to cooperate with Buckley’s insistent call to undertake another investigation of Silver, warning Buckley against such an undertaking due to her previous experience with the psychic.2

However, following Matheson’s death, the assistant becomes increasingly obsessed with investigating Silver for the purpose of exposing the popular psychic as a fraud. During Buckley’s efforts to reveal Silver’s large-scale trickery, a series of inexplicable events occurs — electronic devices explode, dead birds appear, and Buckley’s laboratory is vandalized. Buckley’s paranoia intensifies, as he believes Silver is behind these incidents. Buckley’s calm and rational disposition eventually degenerates into an obsessiveness that resembles the late Matheson’s intense antipathy to paranormal claims. As part of the introduction to the climactic section of the film, Silver agrees to participate in an investigation proposed by an academic from the same university that Matheson was employed by, and Buckley joins the observation team for the tests.4In the final moments of the film, Buckley’s assistants manage to reveal the manner in which Silver defrauds the public through a close analysis of the test footage accumulated by Buckley from the university’s investigation. At the same time, Buckley exposes Silver at one of the psychic’s public performances, and Silver is left dumbfounded. Buckley then reveals to the viewer that he actually possesses paranormal abilities and has been responsible for the inexplicable incidents that have occurred during his investigation of Silver. In a letter to his late mentor, Buckley explains a realization in which he arrives at an understanding that his decision to work with Matheson, despite the possibility of loftier career opportunities as a physicist, was the result of an unconscious attempt to seek others like himself; the revelation clarifies that Buckley’s choices were made in spite of his conscious denial of the existence of paranormal activity (such denial is touched on earlier in the film, whereby the character implies that he chose this career because his mother was delayed from seeking critical medical treatment due to advice from a fraud psychic). The letter to Matheson ends with regret that Buckley denied her the consolation of knowing that there is something more, and that now she deserved even more, “everything.” Buckley then turns off the life-support machine that is keeping Matheson’s son alive. He then walks out of the hospital and concludes his letter to the deceased Matheson: “You can’t deny yourself forever”.3This is a clever movie, doesn’t spell out everything for you, makes you want to watch it carefully so as to not miss a thing. All in all, its one of the best thriller movies I have seen.

 

 

REVIEW: SUNSHINE

CAST

Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours 2)
Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Cliff Curtis (Runaway Jury)
Troy Garity (After The Sunset)
Hiroyuki Sanada (Lost)
Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange)
Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes)

In 2057, the sun is dying and the Earth is freezing. A crew of eight pilot a colossal nuclear bomb aboard the spaceship Icarus II, with the intent to jump start the sun, and return to Earth. As they pass Mercury’s orbit, Icarus II discovers the distress beacon of Icarus I, the first ship to attempt their mission, which disappeared seven years earlier. Reasoning that two bombs have a better chance of success than one, physicist Capa recommends Captain Kaneda change course and commandeer Icarus I. Mace, the ship’s engineer, opposes the deviation as risky. Navigator Trey calculates a trajectory to intercept Icarus I, but forgets to realign the shields that protect the ship from the sun, causing damage to several shield panels.

Kaneda and Capa embark on a spacewalk to make repairs, assisted by Pilot Cassie, who angles the damaged portion of the shield away from the sun. The angle however allows the sun to destroy the ship’s oxygen garden and oxygen reserves. As Icarus II’s autopilot returns the shield to its original alignment, Kaneda orders Capa to safety and repairs the last panel, moments before he’s immolated. Trey blames himself for the loss of Kaneda, and psychiatrist Searle assesses him as a suicide risk, sedating him.

Icarus II docks with Icarus I. Capa, Searle, Mace, and now-Captain Harvey search the vessel, leaving Cassie and botanist Corazon on board Icarus II. They discover Icarus I’s mainframe has been sabotaged, making its bomb delivery impossible. In the ship’s log is a rambling message from Captain Pinbacker, who abandoned his mission. The crew of Icarus I is found charred to death in the solar observation room, where they were long ago exposed to the un-shielded sun. Suddenly, the two ships explosively decouple, destroying Icarus I’s outer airlock, stranding the four crew members on it. Mace suggests one crew member stay behind to manually operate the airlock while the other three jettison between airlocks, using the vacuum release for propulsion. Searle volunteers to stay behind. Capa is sealed in the only space suit, while Harvey and Mace wrap themselves in salvaged insulation material. Searle releases the airlock and the three crew members rocket into space. Harvey misses the airlock and freezes to death, while Capa and Mace make it back to Icarus II. Searle, having spent the mission obsessed with looking into the sun, voluntarily exposes himself to its full, deadly force in the observation room.

Corazon calculates that there is enough oxygen left for four of the five survivors to reach the sun. After a contentious vote, Mace decides to kill Trey, but discovers Trey to have already committed suicide. Capa learns of a stowaway on-board and discovers an insane Pinbacker. Pinbacker attacks Capa and traps him in an airlock. He then kills Corazon, and removes the mainframe from its coolant bath, shutting down the computer. Pinbacker pursues Cassie, who flees into the bomb payload.
Mace attempts to manually lower the computer back into the freezing coolant, but when his leg catches on the descending computer he becomes trapped, and the computer disabled. As he freezes to death, he radios Capa to escape the airlock, decouple the bomb from the ship, and activate it as it plummets into the sun, delivering the payload to its destination. Capa blows the airlock, separates the bomb from the ship, and enters the payload, where he finds Cassie. Pinbacker ambushes them, telling them God ordered him to send all humanity to heaven. As they hurtle into the sun, Capa escapes Pinbacker, reaching the bomb controls. Not sure if it will work under these extreme conditions, he watches as the bomb begins to successfully ignite, at the edge of the sun itself. Back on Earth, on the frozen Sydney Harbour, Capa’s sister witnesses the Sun returning to its full power.This is an amazing film, and is easily one of the best of 2007 . A perfect mix of style and substance.

REVIEW: TRANSCENDENCE

 

CAST

Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
Rebecca Hall (The Gift)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Kate Mara (Fantastic Four)
Cole Hauser (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Cory Hardrict (American Sniper)
Falk Hentschel (Legends of Tomorrow)
Josh Stewart (Interstellar)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Lukas Haas (Inception)

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a scientist who researches the nature of sentience, including artificial intelligence. He and his team work to create a sentient computer; he predicts that such a computer will create a technological singularity, or in his words “Transcendence”. His wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), is also a scientist and helps him with his work.Following one of Will’s presentations, an anti-technology terrorist group called “Revolutionary Independence From Technology” (R.I.F.T.) shoots Will with a polonium-laced bullet and carries out a series of synchronized attacks on A.I. laboratories across the country. Will is given no more than a month to live. In desperation, Evelyn comes up with a plan to upload Will’s consciousness into the quantum computer that the project has developed. His best friend and fellow researcher, Max Waters (Paul Bettany), questions the wisdom of this choice, reasoning that the “uploaded” Will would be only an imitation of the real person. Will’s consciousness survives his body’s death in this technological form and requests to be connected to the Internet to grow in capability and knowledge. Max refuses to have any part of the experiment. Evelyn demands that Max leave and connects the computer intelligence to the Internet via satellite.R.I.F.T.’s leader Bree (Kate Mara) kidnaps Max and eventually persuades him to join the group. The government is also suspicious of what Will’s uploaded consciousness will do and plans to use the terrorists to take the blame for the government’s actions to stop him. In his virtual form and with Evelyn’s help, Will uses his new-found vast capabilities to build a technological utopia in a remote desert town called Brightwood, where he spearheads the development of ground-breaking technologies in medicine, energy, biology, and nanotechnology. Evelyn, however, grows fearful of Will’s motives when he displays the ability to remotely connect to and control people’s minds after they have been subjected to his nano-particles.FBI agent Donald Buchanan (Cillian Murphy), with the help of government scientist Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman), plans to stop the sentient entity from spreading. As Will has already spread his influence to all the networked computer technology in the world, Max and R.I.F.T. develop a computer virus with the purpose of deleting Will’s source code, destroying him. Evelyn plans to upload the virus by infecting herself and then having Will upload her consciousness. A side effect of the virus would be the destruction of technological civilization. This would also disable the nano-particles, which have spread in the water, through the wind and have already started to eradicate pollution, disease, and human mortality.When Evelyn goes back to the research center, she is stunned to see Will in a newly created organic body identical to his old one. Will welcomes her but is instantly aware that she is carrying the virus and intends to destroy him. The FBI and the members of R.I.F.T. attack the base with artillery, destroying much of its power supply and fatally wounding Evelyn. When Bree threatens to kill Max unless Will uploads the virus, Will explains that he has only enough power either to heal Evelyn’s physical body or upload the virus. Evelyn tells Will that Max should not die because of what they’ve done, so Will uploads the virus to save Max. As Will dies, he explains to Evelyn that he did what he did for her, as she had pursued science to repair the damage humans had done to the ecosystems. In their last moment, he tells Evelyn to think about their garden. The virus kills both Will and Evelyn, and a global technology collapse and blackout ensues.Five years later, in Will and Evelyn’s garden at their old home in Berkeley, Max notices that their sunflowers are the only blooming plants. Upon closer examination, he notices that a drop of water falling from a sunflower petal instantly cleanses a puddle of oil — and realizes that the Faraday cage around the garden has protected a sample of Will’s sentient nano-particles, potentially saving Will and Evelyn and providing a solution to the worldwide blackout. The movie ends with the monologue, “He created this garden for the same reason he did everything. So they could be together.”If you love thoughts provoking movie which leave you with a lot of thinking, you will definitely like this movie.

REVIEW: GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING

CAST

Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Scarlett Johansson (Avengers Assemble)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Judy Parfitt (Ever After)
Cillian Murphy (Inception)
Essie Davis (The Babadook)
Anna Popplewell (Reign)

Griet (Scarlett Johansson) is a shy girl living in the Dutch Republic in 1665. Her father, a Delftware painter, has recently gone blind, rendering him unable to work and putting his family in a precarious financial situation. To help matters, Griet is sent to work as a maid in the household of famed painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth). Griet works hard, almost wordlessly, in the lowest position in a harsh hierarchy, doing her best despite spiteful treatment by one of Vermeer’s children. While she is on a routine shopping trip outside the house, a butcher’s son, Pieter (Cillian Murphy), notices Griet and falls in love with her, even though she is slow to return his affections.

As Griet cleans Vermeer’s studio, which his wife Catharina (Essie Davis) never enters, the painter begins to converse with her and encourages her appreciation of painting, light and color. Vermeer gives her lessons in mixing paints and other tasks, taking care to keep this secret from his wife, who would react with anger and jealousy if she found out that her husband was spending time with Griet. In contrast, Vermeer’s pragmatic mother-in-law, Maria Thins (Judy Parfitt), sees Griet as useful to Vermeer’s career.

Vermeer’s rich patron, Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), notices Griet on a visit to the Vermeer household and asks the painter if he will give her up to work in his own house, a situation which ruined a previous girl. Vermeer refuses, but accepts a commission to paint a portrait of Griet for Van Ruijven.

As Vermeer secretly works on the eponymous painting, Catharina cannot help but notice something is amiss and her growing jealousy of Griet becomes apparent. As Griet deals with her growing fascination with Vermeer and his talent, she has to fend off Van Ruijven’s attempt to rape her. Soon afterwards, Catharina’s mother summons Griet, hands over her daughter’s pearl earrings, and instructs Griet to finish the painting while Catharina is away for the day. At the final painting session Vermeer pierces Griet’s earlobe so she can wear one of the pearl earrings for the portrait; she then runs to Pieter to be consoled. They caress and make love in a barn. Afterwards, Pieter proposes marriage, but she shakes her head and leaves. She then returns the earrings to Catharina’s mother.

Catharina discovers that Griet used her earrings, accuses her mother of complicity, and demands Vermeer show her the painting of Griet. Heartbroken that Vermeer does not consider her worthy of being painted because she “doesn’t understand,” Catharina tries but fails to destroy the painting, then banishes Griet from the house forever. Vermeer does not object, and Griet leaves the house in shock. Later, Griet is visited by the cook from the house, who comes bearing a gift: a sealed packet containing the blue headscarf she wore in the painting, wrapped around Catharina’s pearl earrings.

Image result for girl with a pearl earring filmJohannson’s performance commands the film, although she is seldom required to speak and rarely asked what she might be thinking. Parfitt as the true power in the Vermeer household offers the other stellar performance, while Firth’s dazzling charm from other films is sublimated to his character’s artistic temperament. Of course, the greatest compliment that can be paid to first time director Peter Webber is that he has crafted this film with the same care that Vermeer used in painting his own canvases.