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Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review

Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review
« on: March 19, 2023, 02:03:52 PM »

Studio:  A24 and Lionsgate
Release Date:  11/15/2022
Rating:  R
Film:  C+

The Story:  The world is in the midst of a deadly pandemic, with many citizens isolating or only leaving the house masked, there’s a worker shortage, and society watches with great concern as a war unfolds overseas.

No, this isn’t set in the present, the movie lets us know it’s 1918.  We quickly meet Pearl, a simple girl stuck on her family farm in small town Texas.  Her husband has gone off to Europe to fight in WWI, her father needs constant care having been struck ill, and she lives under the critical eye of her domineering German mother.

Pearl has grand dreams of leaving some day, fueled by the latest silent movies showing at the local town’s theater.  She just knows she has been blessed with incredible talent, only needing the right opportunity to show the entire world.

Oh, and she may be suffering from delusions from time to time.

Will she get the big chance she so desperately desires?  Will her husband ever return from the war unharmed?  Will her father make a recovery?  While reading the above, keep in mind this is a horror movie (and a prequel to the earlier movie X, which I have not seen).

My Take:  Pearl evokes the styles of a different era.  No, not the silent era that Pearl is drawn into, but rather those glorious Technicolor films of the 1930s through the 1950s.  Color is used extensively in the movie, from the bright reds of the family’s barn, to Pearl’s clothing, the farmhouse’s vivid wallpaper, vibrant grass that almost glows with life, and luscious baby-blue skies. 

As an aside, at the beginning of the movie I wondered how it might have looked in black and white, and how that would have worked with the story.  That thought was confirmed in one of the featurettes, where it’s mentioned that they wanted to film in black and white, but weren’t allowed to.  That pushed them to the opposite direction we see in the completed film.

Similarly, the musical score aligns perfectly with the visuals.  Sweeping orchestration, grand themes, a dance number that could have been pulled from a 1940’s musical, a kaleidoscopic montage that looks like a nod to Busby Berkeley, albeit in a very different context.  While other scenes even draw comparisons to The Wizard of Oz.

And all of this even extends to smaller details such as the title and end sequences, which were also fashioned after those old movies.  All of this really contributes to a nostalgic feel for the films of those days – a fresh look at a time gone by, and an aesthetic triumph.

Pearl is played by Mia Goth, who gives the character an all-American farmgirl flavor, sweet, yet not so innocent, as we see early in the movie.  There’s a wide emotional range to her character, and she’s convincing in it.  As is Tandi Wright, who does a credible and believable job as Pearl’s stern mother, who is obsessed with the obligations that come with maintaining a family.

Director Ti West, perhaps best known for his early movie House of the Devil, and the more recent X, paces the movie well, not rushed, but not too laid back, either.  There’s a fair amount of violence and gore, but it’s also peppered with some moments of black humor that are bound to elicit spontaneous chuckles from the audience.

The plot is where the movie starts to falter.  There just aren’t enough twists or surprises to keep the audience on their toes, and the story unfolds in a rather mundane and predictable manner.  We’ve seen this story before in other films, and sadly this one doesn’t really add much new, aside from its look and feel.

Video:  The colors absolutely stand out and amazing, even on this Blu-ray.  The screen drips with vibrant, almost otherworldly, saturation.  Dark scenes still have plenty of contrast to clearly show what’s happening.  But those colors are the real star of the movie.

Audio:  Another Blu-ray, another DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.  This is especially disappointing considering that the movie even credits the Dolby Atmos engineer, yet we don’t get the chance to hear his work on this release.  That said, the sound mix is everything it needs to be.  The music is wonderfully reproduced, there’s a fair amount of ambience, and there’s a scene that gives the subwoofers something to do near the end of the movie.  Dialog is crisp and clear throughout.

Special Features:

  • “Coming Out of Her Shell: The Creation of Pearl” and “Time After Time” featurettes, both worth watching if you like the movie
  • Trailers for this and other movies

Final Verdict:  Pearl is an unfortunate example of style of substance.  A beautifully shot movie that paints a vivid picture for the audience and evokes the feel of films from Hollywood’s Technicolor golden years.  The cinematography is complemented by an equally fitting musical score that will resonate with those familiar with movies from that period.

It’s too bad there isn’t more of a story to go with the striking beauty of the movie.  The straightforward plot should have featured more twists and turns.  While well-acted, there just isn’t enough meat for the audience to bite into, nor are there many deep or heavy underlying themes to contemplate.  The violence doesn’t have a menacing or foreboding feel until near the end, and even that doesn’t build to a satisfying crescendo.  More appetizer than satisfying meal.

This is another case of a movie not being outright bad, but not really good, either.  I rate it as solidly average.  Go in with minimal expectations, and you may come away entertained for an hour and three quarters, but it’s a rent and not a buy for me.

A minor warning for those of you thinking about watching this with friends or family, it is rated R, and there are scenes of gore and sex that might be uncomfortable to watch with others, depending on your audience.

Fun Fact:  Star Mia Goth also cowrote the script.

My Review System:

JVC DLA-RS420 Reference Series D-Ila Projector with 4K eShift4
Elite Screens Sable Frame B2 117” Width with Infinitely Variable Height
Monolith by Monoprice HTP-1 16 Channel Processor with Dirac Live Bass Control
Monolith by Monoprice 7x200 Watts Amp
Monolith by Monoprice 3x200 Watts + 6x100 Watts Amp
JBL Studio 590 for Left, Center, Right, Wides, and Rears
JBL Studio 580 for Side Surrounds
JBL Studio SCS 8 for Tops
JTR Captivator 1400 Subwoofer X 4
Panasonic DP-UB420 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
NVIDIA Shield Android TV - 4K
HTPC Running madVR (work in progress)
Remote: URC MX-780
Mini DSP 2X4 HD Combining All Subwoofers into a Single Channel
APC S15 Power Conditioner with Battery Backup
My Room:  26’-1” X 17’-4” X 10’
Equipment:  Monolith HTP-1 feeding X7 and X9 amps, JVC RS3100, Elite Screens 135"", JBL Studio 590 for L, C, R, W, R, 580s for sides and four SCS8 for tops, JTR Captivator 1400 x 4, Panny DP-UB420K, Toshiba HD-A35. Nvidia Shield, Sonos Connect, MX-780 remote

See Youthman's actual tour of my room here: https://youtu.be/PHEaG2xKVhg

Barry

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  • 843
Re: Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2023, 03:43:32 PM »
Thank you for such a thorough review! I’m glad it’s not my autobiography with that name!
McIntosh MX170 Controller: Projector JVC DLA-RS4100; Screen: Stuart StudioTek130: Amps: McIntosh MC-611(center),MC1.25KW (lf&rt);  Krell S-1500 Atmos/Surround; 4kDVD Panasonic UB9000; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2, Ultima Voice 2, (Surround) W 990, Atmos C763L; Subs: SVS SB-13 Ultras;  Cable: 4K Verizon; Broadcast: Mediasonic HW-150PVR; Wiring: Shunyata; Apple TV,

Re: Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2023, 04:01:01 PM »
Not my genre of film, but it's good to read about one of Barry's relatives ;)

Great review Scott. 
Blu-ray Reviewer / Technical Writer
Sound & Vision Magazine

Barry

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  • 843
Re: Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2023, 07:59:03 PM »
Not my genre of film, but it's good to read about one of Barry's relatives ;)

Great review Scott.
I think the last movie with one ofmyrelatives was The Shawshank Redemption.
McIntosh MX170 Controller: Projector JVC DLA-RS4100; Screen: Stuart StudioTek130: Amps: McIntosh MC-611(center),MC1.25KW (lf&rt);  Krell S-1500 Atmos/Surround; 4kDVD Panasonic UB9000; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2, Ultima Voice 2, (Surround) W 990, Atmos C763L; Subs: SVS SB-13 Ultras;  Cable: 4K Verizon; Broadcast: Mediasonic HW-150PVR; Wiring: Shunyata; Apple TV,

AVSCraig

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  • 4756
  • Home Theater Lover / Sales / Advice
    • AV Science, Inc
Re: Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2023, 12:59:10 AM »
Mia Goth got great reviews for this. I'm not much of a slasher film buff though. 
Direct (585) 671-2972 8:00am - 4:30pm Pacific 
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bmoney

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Re: Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2023, 06:53:34 AM »
Thanks for that review 
SadieMax 2,0 Build thread

Nad t758v3 
7.4.4 diysoundgroup 1099's (3) 
Volt 6 (8 ) 
18" SI subs (4) 
diy 130" 2.40 spandex screen
minidsp 2x4HD
JVC rs600
Lumagen radiance pro 4242
Nvidia shield pro
Emby NAS media player

Re: Pearl (2022, Blu-ray, Netflix Rental) Review
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2023, 07:03:01 PM »
Mia Goth got great reviews for this. I'm not much of a slasher film buff though.
She is really good in this movie, and I would think we'll see more of her in the future.  She definitely is talented.

I don't want to give the wrong impression, though, it's not really a slasher film in the mode of Halloween or Friday the 13th, but there is some killing in it.

Scott
My Room:  26’-1” X 17’-4” X 10’
Equipment:  Monolith HTP-1 feeding X7 and X9 amps, JVC RS3100, Elite Screens 135"", JBL Studio 590 for L, C, R, W, R, 580s for sides and four SCS8 for tops, JTR Captivator 1400 x 4, Panny DP-UB420K, Toshiba HD-A35. Nvidia Shield, Sonos Connect, MX-780 remote

See Youthman's actual tour of my room here: https://youtu.be/PHEaG2xKVhg

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