Peter Webber's screen adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's novel looks at the process behind creating one of the most famous portraits and told from the sitter's viewpoint - namely Jan Vermeer's The Girl With a Pearl Earring. Griet (Scarlett Johansson) is a young woman who sets off from her family home in the countryside to work as a servant for the Vermeer household in the burgh of Delft. To begin with, she is very lowly in the servant ranks, but is then given responsibility for cleaning the master of the house's painting quarters. Master of the house, the unsociable Vermeer (Colin Firth) is taken with Griet's looks and over some time paints her portrait. This upsets his pregnant and jealous wife, Catharina (Essie Davis) and his benefactor, van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), who likes to decide what Vermeer should be painting. All the while, Griet is forming her own special relationship with a peasant boy (Cillian Murphy) of her own age.