Movie review: PEARL – Pregnancy X
Movie review: PEARL – Pregnancy X

Movie review: PEARL – Pregnancy X


Published: September 16, 2022 / 00:31

PEARL |  ©2022 A24

PEARL | ©2022 A24

Rating: R
Stars: Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland, Emma Jenkins-Purro, Alistair Sewell
Writers: Ti West & Mia Goth, based on characters created by Ti West
Principal: You West
Distributor: A24
Release date: September 16, 2022

We are in 1918 Texas. Pearl (Mia Goth) is a young woman with a certain exact self-awareness. She suspects there’s something wrong with her, and not just because her disapproving mother (Tandi Wright) keeps telling her so. Is Pearl’s problem that she isn’t as perfect as the silent film performers she idolizes? Is she not content with her lot in life? Or maybe she tends to go into homicidal rages? Who can say?

PEARL Perhaps it will play differently depending on whether or not viewers have already met the character in the previous release this year. X. Both films are directed by Ti West, who also wrote X; he and the Goth star wrote PEARL together.

There’s no denying Goth’s performance here, which is fearless, revelatory and terrifying. Just watching what she does here – there are several very long takes where the camera never looks away – is enough to send mere mortals reeling back in awe and empathetic exhaustion. In the PEARL, our title protagonist is married. However, her equally young husband Howard (Alistair Sewell) is overseas fighting in the Great War.

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For reasons we’ll learn over the course of the film, Pearl lives with her parents on their isolated farm. Pearl’s father (Matthew Sunderland) has become unable to speak or move. He is in a wheelchair and needs constant care. Pearl actually loves her father, but resents having to feed and clean him. Even more, he is bothered by his mother’s strictness. A top hat Pearl found, Mom declares, can’t be brought into the house. What if it has germs? (1918 was also the year of the great flu pandemic.) Pearl forms a relationship with the town’s flirtatious cinema projectionist (David Corenswet), who encourages her dreams of showbiz and travel. Pearl’s sister-in-law Misty (Emma Jenkins-Purro) is friendly and likeable. The tragedy here is that Pearl really wants these relationships to work. She wants to be loved. But she is incapable of empathy.

Some horror fans have called for a female equivalent of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. PEARL it sure isn’t that. This take on West and Goth is far too psychologically acute to be simply a slasher. The closest parallel might be if Norman Bates didn’t dissociate, but asked himself why he was inclined to act the way he does when he knows it’s not what most people do. It’s a bold and well-developed notion.

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PEARL it also lives up to its bona fide horror. It’s much less of a slow burn than X, with Pearl displaying her violent tendencies sooner rather than later in consistently bloody fashion. But it is primarily an unusual character study, constructed with logic and internal conviction. Again, the Goth’s performance is outstanding, and not just inside PEARL, but among all the screen performances given this year, whether horror or mainstream. She is ably supported by a skilled cast.

Spectators of X will know the fate of two of the characters. PEARL definitively eliminates what could previously be perceived as bittersweet aspects of the other film; based on PEARLmaybe that reading a X it was never intended in the first place. PEARL actions Xhis tendency to lean toward dark comedy when drama is a possibility. That’s not a flaw, per se, but showing the audience that they know we know where it’s going feels like a punch.

People who saw X he will probably leave PEARL with more questions than those who don’t, especially as to exactly what happens immediately after that unusual and awkward final shot. The next movie from X series, previewed in PEARLhis post-credits sequence is set to be MAXXINEtook place in 1985. However, if West and Goth want to revisit Pearl, they have enough space to show her adventures between 1918 and 1979.

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With PEARLthey more than earn the trust of viewers that whatever is conceived will be worth watching.

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