Saturday, September 26, 2020

All Roads to Pearla - Movie Review

The Movie: All Roads to Pearla

The Director: Van Ditthavong

The Cast: Alex MacNicoll, Addison Timlin, Corin Nemec, Nick Chinlund, Dash Mihok

The Story: A Texas town awakes when a high school wrestler gets entangled with a drifter and her psychopathic lover. Lives then intertwine and spiral violently out of control once he becomes her escort driver.

The Review:
Dark and moody crime thrillers seem to thrive in the mid-west and southern states with this movie being no exception. The narrative thrives inside of a bleak Texas backdrop that is filled with drugs, crime, and mental health issues most of which are products of poverty in a small town setting. The main character Brandon, played by Alex MacNicoll, dreams of leaving the small town where any possible future seems extremely unappealing. MacNicoll gives a strong performance playing a character that has the world around him spinning out of control. There's a steadiness and quiet confidence to his character even when he is making terrible decisions that are born out of infatuation.

The target of Brandon's infatuation is directed squarely at Addison Timlin's character Pearla, a young woman whose reputation only scratches surface of what she has faces in life and the decisions that have sent her down that path. Timlin is pretty fantastic in this movie and she reminds me a lot of Britney Murphy in her heyday. Most of the story is pushed forward by the endless cycle of bad decisions she is trapped in as well as how she drags Brandon down with him although there are a couple of other subplots that help to flesh out the story.

One of the side stories involves Nick Chinlund's character who is a wrestling coach that has an uncertain past that leads him to also make some pretty awful decisions as the movie unfolds. I was impressed with director Van Ditthavong's ability string together these narratives while maintaining a strong balance between each character. I will also say that, even though this is a dark drama, the cinematography highlights the Texas backdrops beautifully with credit going to the director as well as Spenser T. Nottage behind the camera.

The Verdict:
All Roads to Pearla is a highly effective crime thriller that emphasizes the dark times a lot of people are living in thanks to drugs and poverty. After creating such a strong debut feature film, Van Ditthavong is definitely a director to keep an eye on.

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