DRAMA / FRANCE, SWITZERLAND / 2018 / 80 MINS / MA15+
“When a female athlete fights to achieve excellence, she also represents a woman's fight to simply BE.” These are the words writer-director Elsa Amiel uses to communicate the essence of her debut feature, Pearl, a film that elegiacally captures the state of one mind through the physical workings of the body.
Pearl is the story of Léa Pearl (played by professional bodybuilder Julia Föry in her first acting role, accompanied by other real-life bodybuilders in supporting roles) who no longer wants to feel oppressed and decides to rediscover what has made her who she is.It is three days before the finals of Miss Heaven – a prestigious female bodybuilding competition – when Léa’s ex-lover, Ben (Arieh Worthalter, also appearing in Girl in this year’s Festival), resurfaces. He brings with him the six year-old son she hardly knows, and a request for her to look after the boy, which, combined with the pressures of training, pushes Léa to breaking point.
Without sexualised imagery, Elsa Amiel challenges traditional notions of femininity and beauty in a film that is literally and figuratively lean and muscular in every sense of the word. From the extreme close-ups in its opening moments, we know we’re in for something illuminating, and Amiel does not fail to deliver.
"Squint your eyes and it's almost like watching a Nicolas Winding Refn film but without the violence or black humor."– Hollywood Reporter
DIRECTED BY: ELSA AMIEL
STARRING: Julia Föry, Peter Mullan, Arieh Worthalter, Agata Buzak, Vidal Arzoni