Beautiful and complex: a classic story about sisters
Pearl Diver is beautifully done, deep, rich, and unpretentious. It explores the relationship between Mennonite sisters who, as children, witnessed their mother's murder. They have dealt with it in different ways: Hannah, by following her anger to a new life in the city; and Marian, by internalizing her feelings and remaining true to her Mennonite upbringing. While it may seem that Marian is in denial, subsequent revelations ~ presented through flashbacks ~ show that her anger may have been transmuted into a sad wisdom. Her silence stems from secrecy; her forgiveness, from guilt. Flashbacks are beautifully done. The main themes are pretty straightforward, but the suspense and complexity keep it from being static. Mature viewers and readers of classic novels will enjoy the depth and foreshadowing. (The anecdote from Marian's opening scene, of Dirk Willems ~ an Anabaptist martyr ~ foreshadows a flashback scene in which Marian's character is given added dimension.) Mennonite lifestyles are portrayed with dignity, but without idealization. Hannah's character is critical of the lifestyle, but her criticism is balanced by the integrity of the Mennonites. The solution to the financial crisis is somewhat convenient; but it has the strength of symbolism on its side. Action buffs and viewers who like superficial themes will be bored or mystified. The film is not typical Hollywood.
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