‘Pearl’: Mia Goth should get Oscars attention for terrifying role

‘Pearl’: Mia Goth should get Oscars attention for terrifying role


Spoiler alert: The entire plot of “Pearl” and “X” will be discussed in this article.

Who would have thought a church dance tryout would result in one of the strongest movie monologues of the year?

Such is the case with ‘Pearl’, Ti West’s twisting, hallucinatory ode to the Technicolor-era film. It’s the prequel to this year’s grimy porn slasher “X”, in which Mia Goth played an aspiring XXX actress as well as a makeup-laden, almost unrecognizable older woman named Pearl, who ended up making up most of the film crew who stayed on her farm murdered . In the latest film, Goth takes on a third role of Pearl as a young woman.


This serial killer origin story finds Pearl trapped on her family’s ranch in 1918, while her husband Howard is worlds away from Texas while fighting the war, leaving her to do the chores for her strict German immigrant mother and disabled father. Dreaming of a life dancing on the silver screen, she soon becomes murderous after being scolded by her mother, rejected by her movie operator lover and her father, who would be just a dead weight on her journey to movie stardom. .

Pearl is invited to a dance audition at the church by her sister-in-law Mitsy (Emma Jenkins-Purro) and, despite a bombastic performance, is fired by the judges for looking for a blond dancer with a fresh face. In an effort to calm a distraught Pearl, Mitsy takes her home and invites her to practice what she would say to Howard to make her feel better. results in an acting masterclass.

“I hate you so much for leaving me here, sometimes I hope you die,” Pearl begins sharply, absorbed in the fantasy of talking to her soldier husband. “I’m sorry, I hate to admit that, but it’s the truth.” The confession stings the audience more than Pearl’s ax strikes earlier in the film, ringing with the unspoken honesty of a woman facing loneliness and depression while her husband is around the world, his fate unknown.

“I wish things could just go back to the way they were, but I don’t see how they could, not after the things I’ve done,” she continues to an increasingly restless Mitsy.

Pearl continues unguarded and candid about her miscarriage (“I never wanted to be a mother. I was disgusted by the feeling that it grew inside me, it felt like a disease…I was so relieved when it died”), infidelity and murderous tantrums.

With the camera focused on her face in close-up, the audience is constantly thinking of Mitsy on the other side of the table, forced to keep a straight face as they hear these taboo statements. As Pearl wraps up and laments that she’ll probably be stuck on the farm forever, she delivers her broken mission statement: “All I really want is to be loved. I’ve been having such a hard time without it lately.” As Pearl bows her head exhausted and silently, Mitsy finds her chance to leave the room, but is caught up in one last conversation, as the other shoe falls and Pearl congratulates her sister-in-law on getting the dance on.

Though Mitsy denies it, the drama is heightened when Pearl urges her blonde niece to admit her success, even saying, “I’m happy for you.” Goth dispels the tension, seemingly down to Earth to find frustration in the situation but not blaming her family. But after thinking about it, Pearl grits her teeth and mutters, “You always get what you want,” and it’s clear that poor Mitsy will never make it to the podium.

The scene is reminiscent of the tense the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 film ‘Inglourious Basterds’ in which Nazi Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) has a lengthy discussion with farmer Perrier LaPadite (Denis Ménochet), in which both parties – and the public – become increasingly certain that there is a Jewish family in the floorboards of the house, and things will not end peacefully. That scene ended up being one of the film’s most memorable, kickstarting the buzz for Waltz’s first Academy Award.

During the beginning of her monologue, Pearl laments, “The truth is I’m not really a good person.” While it’s easy to pigeonhole the axe-wielding movie star that way, the reality is much more muddy. She is a broken person, a loving person, a lonely person at a time in America’s history where women were supposed to be the pillars of the home. Goth plays a misbehaving woman from the era, grinding away the edges of her personality, hopes and desires.

It’s easy to think that Pearl might find a kindred spirit in the titular heroine of Chantal Akerman’s 1975 film “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”. making ends meet through dissociative sex work, leading to a tragic ending where an unexpected climax leads her to kill a John. The mix of the mundane, domestic and erotic, all pulsating to a tragic end, illuminates both works.

The startling final scene of “Pearl” – Howard comes home to a dinner table full of Pearl’s victims, his wife eager to greet him – ends with a minute-long continuous shot of Goth smiling ear-to-ear, every muscle in her face stretched to exaggeration, tears broke now and then as her eyes stare down the camera barrel. It’s an image that matches Pearl’s inevitable fate in the decades before “X”: trapped in the Technicolor nightmare of her Texas ranch, with a grin to divert the tears. (Another parallel to “Jeanne Dielman”: the seven-minute continuous shot of Jeanne after tucking her underpants, which ends the movie.)

Despite raves among fans and even a co-sign from Martin Scorsese (“I was captivated, then disturbed, then so restless I had trouble falling asleep. But I couldn’t stop watching.”) “Pearl” seems destined to be overlooked as a serious acting show. Horror is eternally ignored when it comes to attention to awards. Some of the most indelible performances of the past decade have been ignored simply because of genre: Florence Pugh in ‘Midsommar’, Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Us’, Toni Collette in ‘Hereditary’, Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘The Witch .”

Still, Goth flexes every muscle throughout the film, nailing down moments that are both absurd and heartfelt. For every crushing monologue, there’s a comedic beat around the corner, or just a startling image of Pearl leaping forth with a bloody axe. And while acting categories will inevitably be filled with tear-jerking performances about the pain of growing up or the grief of losing a family member, how many roles call for the lead to accidentally get too high and propel a scarecrow to orgasm? That’s a range that Oscar voters should be behind.


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