Sunday, October 29, 2023


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Ti West
Starring: Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland, Emma Jenkins-Purro, Alistair Sewell, Lauren Stewart
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Production on "Pearl" commenced immediately after writer/director Ti West finished production on "X", for which "Pearl" is a prequel of. The narrative focuses on the story of Pearl, who in 1918 during the influenza pandemic lives with her German immigrant parents on a farm in Texas. Pearl's husband Howard has been deployed to serve in World War I. Pearl has some challenges in her life in addition to the absence of her husband: her father is deeply ill and paralyzed, while her mother is suffocating, critical and forces her to work constantly on the farm and assisting with her father's care. She aspires to become a chorus girl, as inspired by all the films she sees. Pearl becomes excited with the prospect of a new life when her sister in law tells her about an audition that is being held in town for a traveling troupe. After a huge fight with her mother, which results in her mother suffering bad burns, Pearl flees to the movie theater where she ends up having sex with the projectionist. When he further refuses to provide more attention or emotional support, Pearl kills him and pushes him and his car to the pond. Pearl is firmly intent on pursuing her plans, and as things don't go according to plan, the darker and more violent her actions become.
Writer/director Ti West who made a name for himself with "The House of the Devil" and "The Innkeepers" before embarking on a lengthy series of directorial jobs for well known TV shows including "Wayward Pines", "The Exorcist" and more recently "Them", has tilted direction back into features with the "X" trilogy, of which "Pearl" is the well received second installment. One of the most interesting aspects about "Pearl" is the fact that the central character is given time to slowly reveal herself to the audience (and also to the other characters in the film). Though the character itself feels a bit roughly illustrated and somewhat like a composite of other serial killers (just enough of some characteristics to elicit understanding and assimilation), it's nonetheless engagingly brought to life thanks to Mia Goth's performance, who towers over the film by composing the character with a mix of naiveté, obsession, resentment and ferocious intent. Ti West smartly manages to let the events unfold, allowing for the bubbling under the surface violence from Pearl to manifest itself in waves that become that much more frequent as she also progressively loses whatever inhibitions she has towards killing and death in general. And while the death scenes are indeed gruesome, the film never feels overtly or gratuitously in the torture porn genre. It's as if Ti West observed what Terrence Malick did with "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven", alongside Peter Bogdanovich's "Paper Moon", and added a layer of horror to it, with a seemingly unexpected serial killer. Mia Goth is of course fantastic, particularly her monologue sequence with her sister in law, and the ending, but the rest of the cast provides good support, in particular Tandi Wright and Emma Jenkins-Purro. The production team is solid, including Eliot Rockett's cinematography, Tom Hammock's production design and Tyler Bates & Tim Williams' score. Worth watching, even if it is indeed a bit rough when it comes to character definition.