A beautiful film, but the plot holds no revelations, and moves at glacial speed (indeed, you occasionally feel that you are watching paint dry). The story holds nothing new and is so buried by nuance that you just can't seem to care about Johannson's plight as a young woman virtually sold into servitude who catches the eye of the master painter Vermeer in whose household she works.
However, the sets and cinematography are stunning - still lifes come to life (more or less) as in "all the days of the world".
I can imagine how this film was pitched to the studio:"wouldn't it be cool if we took a famous painting of a young woman and built a back story around it - and we could use sets as still life to make it all arty and about art".
It is truly about art - more than about any emotion that may trickle onto the screen. Even Tom Wilkinsen's lothario and patron plays false and his "deal" with Vermeer, while oddly kinky (trying to live vicariously through what he perceives in Vermeer and the maiden)could have been much stronger - and even when he semi rapes the girl it seems abrupt and another "set piece".
That Johannson has fallen for Vermeer is obvious and I suppose there is a pity in being trapped in her "station", and while I understand her getting sex from her "friend" the butcher's son immediatily after getting groped by Wilkinsen, it still seemed just a shade off, even though I appreciated the understated way in which she turned down the son's offer of marriage (for her heart and soul belonged to Vermeer).
The insights into an artist's eye are what kept my interest (that and the visuals), and it was a revelation learning what went into the formulation of colors.
To conclude, this film is worthy as a work of art, but the drama was as repressed as the Victorian mores of the times in which the film represents.