So I went to see Pearl this last weekend with no context other than seeing a poster. I had absolutely no idea what this movie was about, not even the genre. Lately I have discovered that going into films with no expectations yields better results and more enjoyment in my movie going experience, and that was the exact result with Pearl. Pearl is a funny, brilliant, fascinating film that would also make the perfect addition to anyone’s Halloween movie list.
The intro suggested that this film may be a period piece, a comedy, or even a musical. Shot like a 1950s film with title cards that looked like they were right out of Singing in the Rain, Pearl defied genre expectations. The perception of the film was perfectly solidified when Pearl stabs a goose with a farm tool. She then feeds her latest kill to her pet alligator who lives in the lake on her family’s farm. Her attitude during and after the killing suggests to the audience that this was not the first time. The film's ability to handle a serial killer in a way that kept the audience not only entertained but laughing is incredible.
Now based on the murder subject material one might call this film a horror movie, but at no point does it feel like a horror movie. The audience laughs their way through it, but at no point does it feel like a comedy. The story is of a small town farm girl, desperate to escape her life, and despite the murder and crazy it very much feels like a very campy drama. Pearl brilliantly blends genre’s making it something entirely original and completely it's own. Entirely impossible to categorize or compare Pearl brings new life to the film industry.
Pearl has a near 6 minute monologue in the third act and Mia Goth’s acting is unbelievable. Possibly the best acting that I’ve seen in a theatrical released film in years. For someone to be on camera with no cuts, show a range of emotions and only ending the monologue in controlled tears, and showing the audience not only internal guilt but motivation as well is beyond impressive. The casting and acting all around was brilliant but Mia was really the star of the show here.
The ending was perfect, not only timing wise but narratively as well. To have the husband that was missing for the whole movie walk in on the manifestation of Pearl’s full mental break was absolutely incredible.
Now for all the technical stuff; The cinematography was phenomenal, really kept the style of the major budget 1950s films. The wider shots were beautiful and excellently juxtaposed the content. The pacing was perfect, the film constantly progressed and there was never a stale moment or a lingering moment that could have been cut. The movie has a run time of 1 hour and 42 minutes, honestly the ideal length for any movie. Yes there is wiggle room for adaptations, but for the most part original works should not exceed 2 hours. After that writers and directors are being self indulgent and actually hurting their story. This film was the perfect length to properly tell the story it wanted to tell.
Overall I thought the film was wonderful, well thought out and executed. There was nothing I would change, it was a fun film. Not all art has a commentary to make, but if it isn't going to attempt to say anything profound it needs to be entertaining and that entertainment should be well put together and cohesive. Pearl was exactly that, a break for my brain for almost 2 hours. No heavy emotions, just a fun murdery film.