Though hardly an expertly crafted piece of cinema verite, A Man Named Pearl still has that inspirational vibe about it, set in Bishopville, South Carolina. This poor area hasn't come a long way, in terms of bigotry. And, its main street has plenty of closed-down businesses.
Pearl Fryar is a black senior citizen who has become quite the handyman. He was once a soda can factory worker, the son of a sharecropper.
But, Pearl has distinguished himself as a topiary artist in his suburban milieu, sculpting an adjacent section of land into a unique garden, saving plants for his creation.
What he does with bushes and trees is something to behold, as some of his artistry reminds one of documentaries like Crop Circles or the more poignant Rivers and Tides. Not bad for someone who "learned" from a brief exhibit at a nursery.
Some may consider A Man Named Pearl a sincere "man about town" piece about an abstract craftsman that isn't worthy of feature film consideration. But, it goes to show that someone like Fryar can turn it all around with the flair of an Edward Scissorhands for the betterment of himself (teaching on the college level) and the community, as the Chamber of Commerce can attest to.
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