Lifetime Film Review: V.C. Andrews’ Pearl in the Mist (dir by David Bercovici-Artieda)


Since I kind of enjoyed watching Ruby earlier today, I decided to watch the second film in Lifetime’s Landry family saga, V.C. Andrews’ Pearl In the Mist.

Pearl in the Mist picks up where the first film ended.  The year is 1962 and aspiring artist Ruby (Raechelle Banno) is living in New Orleans and still thinking about the life that she left behind in the Bayou.  Her father (Gil Bellows) is still married to her bitchy stepmother (Lauralee Bell).  Ruby’s twin sister, Giselle (Karina Banno), is still using a wheelchair as a result of a car accident and she’s still angry that Ruby stole away Giselle’s boyfriend, Beau (Ty Wood).  Ruby’s half-brother, Paul (Sam Duke), is still living in the Bayou and is still in love with Ruby, despite the fact that any physical relationship between them would be incestuous.

However, it’s time for Ruby and Giselle to get out of New Orleans.  They’ve been enrolled in a prestigious boarding school.  Giselle is not happy about having to leave home.  Ruby is excited because, goddammit, Ruby’s excited about everything.  At the boarding school, Ruby deals with all sorts of drama.  She befriends a girl who is passing as white.  She inspires a blind pianist.  She flirts with a hunky groundskeeper.  She continues to paint under the tutelage of Miss Stevens (Meaghan Hewitt McDonald).  She does all of this despite the fact that the school’s headmistress (Marilu Henner) hates her because Ruby is from the Bayou and no one trusts “swamp people.”  As the same time, Ruby has to deal with her wicked stepmother and her bitter sister.

I have to admit that, at first, I didn’t think I was going to like Pearl in the Mist, if just because Ruby herself was so perfect that she was kind of annoying.  She never had a bad thought.  She never said a bad word.  She was also so extremely naïve and so endlessly enthusiastic that I could understand why Giselle was so sick of having to deal with her.  Ruby’s innocence made sense in the first film, because Ruby was still adjusting to life in the city.  But, by the time Pearl in the Mist rolls around, there’s really no excuse for Ruby to be so clueless about …. well, everything.

Fortunately, about halfway through, the film started to get interesting.  Bizarre incidents started to pile up.  Characters started to snap at each other in dialogue that was so overwritten and pulpy that it was kind of impossible not to love the sound of it.  The film embraced the melodrama, as I like to say.  It all eventually led to a plot twist involving Giselle that was so insane and so out there that it redeemed the entire film.  Karina Banno appeared to be having a lot of fun being bad as Giselle and it was fun to watch her.  If you’re going to be in a film like this, you always want to play the bad girl.  They always get the best lines.

In the end, Pearl in the Mist was so over-the-top and cheerfully silly that I couldn’t help but enjoy it.  All trips to the Bayou should be as fun.