The Very Best
My god, Mia Goth!
It's rare to see a prequel surpass its antecedent, but Pearl is that exception. You can watch it before or after X and still get the same satisfaction from piecing together the puzzle of Mia Goth's many roles (three in total across the trilogy). If the first film owed a lot to slasher classics like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the second (surprise!) channels The Wizard of Oz and nods to the splendiferous melodramas of Douglas Sirk. The jarring form-content opposition here makes sense, as we're seeing through the eyes of the main character, who most of all dreams of being in a movie. Because of that very same whimsy, everything has to change: the violence is not as explicit and the role of sex is brought to the forefront. All hail the new kind of final girl: a farm girl-turned-star.
Mia Goth's intervention as both lead actress and co-writer shapes and sharpens Pearl, making out of it a mutli-layered exploration of womanhood in relation to exposure and performance. This is why Goth's own performance here stands out the most: she imbues the character with her own star persona qualities. Known for playing quirky, loud women (think A Cure for Wellness or Infinity Pool), the British actress here owns the screen, superbly so. Her Pearl is devoted to the point of mania, also libidinal and cunning. By planting her character development in an obsessive love for "the pictures" (or early cinema reels of the Tiller Girls), Goth finds a smart way to mock stardom as a concept while also securing her own star status in a superb role like this.