A Man Named Pearl Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson

A Man Named Pearl Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson
There is little to be learned and perhaps very little purpose to A Man Named Pearl, aside from the observation that small communities in South Carolina have a home-grown, eerie, Stephen King kind of charm, along with the reality that Baptists are kind of scary. On the surface, the documentary is about Pearl, a man who takes discarded plants from the local greenhouse, plants them at home and over time creates elaborate topiaries out of them, much like Edward Scissorhands, only without the tragic but realistic world view and, well, the scissor hands. The suggested allegory comes twofold with Pearl's town of residence, a dilapidated, low-income Bishopville in desperate need of "care" and "rejuvenation," much like the now flourishing plants, in addition to Pearl's preoccupation with unintelligent children, citing the cyclical nature of societal expectations and failure as learned behaviour. This narrative amplification never works entirely and often feels like a stretch, especially during sequences at the local community art college where Pearl speaks about his lack of artistic planning and how unimportant grades are, which of course, the students love to hear. The bulk of the documentary, on a literal level, examines the upkeep of topiaries and interviews local denizens who aggrandize Pearl and speak much of God's creations. They are the kind of folks who would happily invite a stranger into their home for tea with open arms and brotherly love, unless that stranger were gay or Muslim, in which case they would pull out the ole shotgun and speak in tongues about it at church the next day. Included with the DVD release are a bonus CD of Fred Story's bland, jazzy score and a brief interview with Mr. Story. Also available is a brief update with Pearl Fryar and co-director Scott Galloway, which is high on technical information and low on insight. (Paradox)