Botanical Miracle

Review of A Man Named Pearl by Kaitlin S., age 19

“Pearl Fryar really put the town of Bishopville on the map”; at least, that is what the people of Bishopville think. Pearl Fryar is no Batman, but his friends and neighbors are convinced that he’s a hero. Also unlike Batman, Pearl Fryar is a real person, and no characters in his movie are acting. A Man Named Pearl is an inspirational, entertaining piece of work that moves at a refreshingly slower pace than most Hollywood dramas.

An uncanny knack for topiary art is a highly uncommon skill for a hero to possess, but it is Pearl Fryar’s talent. With not a dime to spare on plants, and without formal training, Pearl Fryar sculpted a world-renowned topiary garden almost out of thin air. Using an interview format, Pearl and others who witnessed this botanical miracle describe its unfolding, and the impact it had on their town.

The closest A Man Named Pearl comes to “action scenes” are shots of Pearl trimming his topiaries with a chain saw. The movie was made up almost entirely of interviews. However, although the word “interview” tends to have connotations of stuffiness, the interviews in A Man Named Pearl felt more like chats in someone’s living room than formal interviews. Because Pearl overcame odds like poverty, racism, and lack of education, his story is truly inspirational. Both the approachability and honesty of the interviews and the intriguing subject matter made this movie entertaining. Although A Man Named Pearl does not contain the thrills, excitement, and adventure of typical super-hero movies, it captures a compelling hero story with something more than Hollywood typically has to offer: a healthy dose of realism.

Kaitlin S.
July 16th, 2008

A Man Named Pearl
SIFF Cinema
August 1 - 7

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