Bobby Roth’s teen drama Pearl is an ambitious film that touches on a variety of troublesome aspects of family life in America. Pearl (Larsen Thompson), an accomplished and promising teen girl, lives a life of wealth and privilege. She is set to enter the private school of her choice when disaster turns her life upside down. The words of her would-be school administrator are a grim foreshadowing of what’s to come. One night a rage-filled argument leads to her stepfather shooting her mother and then himself, leaving Pearl behind to a disaffected alcoholic grandmother. She can’t bear the thought of living with her grandmother, who is also not exactly keen on the idea.
In another part of town, on another night of lonely disillusionment, a washed-up film director, Jack Wolf (Anthony LaPaglia), sits at his table with a bottle of whiskey and a handgun. He’s steeling himself to take the step that will make it all go away.
“Helen shares in the letter that Jack is Pearl’s biological father, and she asks him to look after her.”
A call from an old acquaintance interrupts his grand finale. The caller is a lawyer who tells him that his ex-girlfriend Helen (Sarah Carter) has been murdered and informs him that she left him something he should know about, a letter to be delivered to Jack in the event of her death. Helen shares in the letter that Jack is Pearl’s biological father, and she asks him to look after her.
When Pearl hears this news, she comes to see Jack to size him up. Helen was the love of Jack’s life, and he never stopped caring for her, and even though she left him, the notion of being the father to Helen’s daughter is compelling. Pearl doesn’t accept that Jack is her father, but given that all her other options are worse, she chooses him and moves in. While the situation would be less than perfect for both of them, they each have reasons to give it a try.
"…an ambitious film that touches on many troublesome aspects of family life..."