Opening 1 Jun 2023
Pearl (Mia Goth) is a young woman, who lives with her German mother Ruth (Tandi Wright) in a farmhouse surrounded by fields and people travelling in horses and buggies. She wears her mother’s old clothes. She helps care for her father; he is infirm, sits in a wheelchair and must be washed and fed. It’s 1918, World War I, and Pearl’s husband, Howard, has left to serve in the military. It’s also the time of the Spanish flu and people stay at home, wearing masks, much as we did during the 2020-2022 pandemic. Pearl strives to leave this environment and says, “I am special.” She imagines herself a star and intends to become a famous dancer, similar to those who appear in movies. She shares this goal with her sister-in-law Mitsy (Emma Jenkins-Purro), who perhaps has a better chance, being both blond and talented. They both audition at the local church. Pearl becomes acquainted with a film projectionist (David Corenswet), who works at the local cinema; he gives her snippets of a film to watch, and then visits her at home.
Pearl turns into a horror film for adult viewers. There are several corpses, one burning, one sinking into the lake in an old-fashioned car. Perhaps it would be safer for Howard to remain in battle. Filmed in New Zealand, the environment looks much like my home in the USA Midwest state of Missouri. A pitchfork, a goose, a crocodile, a scarecrow, and lots of corn-on-the cob play roles. Pearl showed at several film festivals including Toronto and Venice. It is the prequel of West’s film X (2022), also starring the talented Mia Goth. (Becky Tan)