A Man Named Pearl
Having moved to Bishopville, South Carolina in 1976, the Fryar's were notified that an African American family was not welcomed in the rural neighborhood in which they wished to live, due to the stereotype claiming that they didn't keep up with their yards. Taken aback by the comment, Pearl decided to purchase a home in a black neighborhood and fix up his yard. His goal was a simple one; to win Bishopville's Yard of the Month.
It is this small goal that set Pearl out to become a world renowned topiary artist and a household name amongst those in the field. But with no training and no experience, it is baffling to see just how extraordinary Pearl's yard truly is and how much time and effort that he has put into it.
The film, A Man Named Pearl, documents Pearl's journey as he single handedly created a tourist attraction that helped put the small Bishopville on the map. His dedication and determination has amazed everyone, and his reaction to an unjustified racial comment has impressed and set an example for all.
However, sadly, I must admit that the film, which is directed by Scott Galloway, who is making his directorial debut, fails to capitalize on the beauty and determination of Pearl. Instead, it concentrates on the actual shrubs and the fact that he had no training; thus becoming a repetitive bore within minutes of the opening sequence.
Now don't get me wrong, I truly believe that the story and message of this film are as powerful as they come; however, Galloway failed to capture and convey things beyond the message. We never know about Pearl's history before his yard and we never really get to see him as a family man. Sure those that know him discuss his actions and dedication to the community and his goodwill to all who come to see his garden, but there never is a sure fire example or footage to back the statements up.
As a result, A Man Named Pearl is a film with a powerful message but no meat to carry it through its slow times. Additionally it seems to hold onto a few facts and drag them out rather than venturing into other avenues and instances that would have ultimately allowed the audience to get to know Pearl's community, friends and way of life. These days, documentaries have to go deep within their subjects and obtain the rare and unknown facts in order to keep audiences intrigued. Here, all we get is 78 minutes of facts and stories, proving only one thing – a movie can be made about just about anyone these days.