Pearl prequel
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Pearl is a bloody good prequel

Mia Goth and Ti West reunite for another twisted film in Pearl from A24. Trapped on her family’s isolated farm, Pearl (Goth) must tend to her ailing father (Matthew Sunderland) under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother, Ruth (Tandi Wright). Making matters worse, Pearl’s husband Howard (Alistair Swell) is serving in World War I.

Lusting for a glamorous life like she’s seen in the movies, Pearl finds her ambitions, temptations, and repressions colliding in this stunning, technicolor-inspired origin story of X‘s iconic villain. Carrying the subtitle An X-traordinary Origin Story), Pearl works as a standalone film even if you didn’t see X.

Ti West sets the story in rural America during the years of the First World War and delicately adds little quirks such as wearing masks to avoid getting to make the plot relatable. When Pearl meets a local young man (David Corenswet) known only as The Projectionist, he verbally aids in her dreams of moving to Europe and becoming a dancer so he can have his way with her.

Pearl cannot escape the limiting family situation because of the severity and inflexibility of her mother. Because of his infirmity, Pearl’s mother wants her to care for her father. The girl is willing to do anything to find a way out of the situation. Director Ti West promotes the search for one’s voice and believes in the possibility of escaping from oppressive conditions organically. He has an excellent idea of inserting a fundamental element into the development of the girl’s desires: the opportunity to experience wonder at the cinema. The ecstasy of seeing the dancers on the screen and, later, coming into physical contact with the film’s tactile material constitutes Pearl’s last push. 

By any means, you must make your dreams come true. Using vivid and colorful aesthetics, Ti West plays with continuous reversals of expectations and perspectives, recalling, in some cases, known elements (such as the crocodile in X). In other cases taking over brand-new expressive territories, especially regarding analyzing the stormy relationship between Pearl and her mother.

In Pearl, British-born Mia Goth mixes the comic with the dramatic. Those who saw the previous film will remember that in addition to interpreting the young Maxine, Goth also portrayed the elderly Pearl. Goth breaks through the screen for the film’s whole duration, sublimating her interpretation which some may view as over-the-top but always credible. 

Towards the film’s climax, Goth gives us an intense monologue that would surely bring on Oscar talks if this weren’t a genre film. Coupled with the eccentric close-up shot ending during the credits, West and Goth enrich an already brilliant film to still more astounding heights.


Pearl opens in theaters on September 16th. 


Final Grade: B+

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