Socialist Worker

Shameless | Girl with a Pearl Earring

Issue No. 1885

No shame in this artistic licence

THE CHAOS runs thick and fast through the opening scenes of this outrageously funny new drama from Paul Abbott (creator of State of Play and Alibi).

Introduced to the Gallagher family, we see youngster Lip giving homework assistance to a classmate in exchange for oral sex under the kitchen table and the revelation of his brother Ian's shenanigans with the Asian bloke from the corner shop.

This revelation leads to the classic quip: 'Latest-Muslim cheats on white fundamentalist wife with gay boy.'

Smooth-talking Steve woos older sister Fiona and buys her a washing machine after the first date. However, when he turns out to be a car thief it's the start of a beautiful relationship.

Meanwhile their omnipresent but mentally absent dad, Frank, stumbles about pissed.

Realism and sincerity shine through this black comedy. The series is based on Abbott's experiences of growing up on an estate in Burnley. Working class people are shown scraping through life not with bleak stoicism, but by having a laugh.

The great dialogue and effortless direction make this series well worth watching.

Katya Nasim

Shameless, Tuesdays, 10pm, C4

Girl with a Pearl Earring
Director: Peter Webber

This is a visually captivating film. It is a fictionalised account of the background to a painting by 17th century Dutch artist Vermeer, based on a novel. A servant girl, Grieta, goes to work in the Vermeer household and becomes embroiled in their passions and jealousies.

The film shows the sheer drudgery of servitude and the claustrophobic closeness of living quarters.

The darkness of the interior scenes increases the sense of inescapability, while sporadic rays of light have a startling impact and increase the sense that secrets and agendas could suddenly be exposed.

Despite the charged relationship between Vermeer and Grieta, the most sensuous and tantalising aspects of the film elements were elsewhere.

They emerged in the revelation of where the artists' colours come from, how colours can create depth and texture, how dark space can dramatically alter a painting.

There could have been more historical context, but Vermeer does emerge as the 'painter of light', and the film made me want to go and see his paintings.

Diana Swingler

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Article information

Sat 24 Jan 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1885
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