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A greeting card disguised as a historical drama about Jan Vermeer and his 17th-century Dutch milieu. Scarlett Johansson plays Grete, a 16-year-old domestic in the household of the dashing young painter (Colin Firth), who sublimates his feelings for her into his painting. The maid is lit like a Vermeer portrait even when she isn't posing or mixing his paints, which reduces his art to photo-realism and undercuts the reverence accorded to him as a sacred visionary. The period detail is more vibrant than the minimal story (adapted by Olivia Hetreed from Tracy Chevalier's novel), which includes Grete's romance with a butcher's assistant. Tom Wilkinson plays Vermeer's patron as a lascivious ogre. Peter Webber, a first-timer, directed. PG-13, 99 min.

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