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  • Gareth Crook

Pearl (2022) - 8/10

I feel like there’s a lot of Mia Goth films I need to catch up with. One being ‘X’, which I might give a go next. Here though she stars as Pearl, a rather dramatic young woman, trapped on a sleepy and isolated, albeit idyllic looking farmstead, in wartime Spanish flu riddled America, with her oppressive German speaking mother and invalid father, waiting on the return of her husband from the frontline, but really… just waiting. She’s a dreamer, a wannabe performer, auditioning for the cows in the barn. Pigtails and dungarees, the picture of hyper coloured American fantasy. Pearl though has a darkness behind that forced smile. As a wandering goose soon finds out. It’s got a playful but ominous atmosphere. The era, the costume, the score, the saturated colour, it all feels like a Disney production. Trying to put its best for forward despite the realities of what’s happening in its timeline. Pearl is the result of this. She’s focussed on the future, on opportunity, on fame, escape, romance, a life, but she’s also a product of the restrictions of her life, brought on by the war and her station. Goth is brilliant, carrying the film with a complex character. Able to portray genuine wonder and innocence one moment and troubling menace the next. It’s this switch that Pearl banks on. Building its tension slowly. We know Pearl has a dangerous potential lurking, we see her explore her frustrations in increasingly bizarre behaviour. Opportunity Pearl seeks comes through her sister in law Mitsy (Emma Jenkins-Purro), every bit the southern belle, who suggests they secretly audition for a chorus line at the next church event. Encouraged by the smooth talking Clark Gable mixed with Jon Hamm projectionist at the local cinema (David Corenswet) to live her life, the tension is building within Pearl to plan her escape. Granted it’s a bit overly stylised, occasionally tropey, but there’s some arresting stuff and it’s well acted. Not least by Tandi Wright who plays Pearls mother and in one pivotal scene threatens to steal the show… before events set in motion the unveiling of just what Pearl is truly capable of. It doesn’t feel like a horror, but Pearl is scary. I mean the character, Goth’s portrayal of her. Everyone is scared of Pearl, even Pearl and rightly so. She’s ferociously ambitious… and deadly with a pitchfork. “It’s not about what I want, it’s about making the best of what I have”. I did follow this with a viewing of X and chuckled at the link between the two films. As much as o enjoyed X though and the depth it adds to a simple slasher flick, Pearl feels like a much more interesting film. I’m intrigued to see where Ti West goes next.



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