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A Man Named Pearl (2008)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 32
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 9

Though it lacks moviemaking polish, A Man Named Pearl is redeemed by the interest -- and uplift -- generated by its subject.


Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 4

Though it lacks moviemaking polish, A Man Named Pearl is redeemed by the interest -- and uplift -- generated by its subject.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 492

My Rating

Movie Info

A Man Named Pearl tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar. It is a subtle and intriguing film that is certain to open hearts and minds. It offers an upbeat message that speaks to respect for both self and others, and shows what one person can achieve when he allows himself to share the full expression of his humanity.


Documentary, Special Interest


Nov 25, 2008

Shadow Distribution - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (9) | DVD (1)

In its own modest fashion, the film does capture a sense of the intuitive craftsmanship, pride and determination that drive the self-taught artist.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is moviemaking that honors the craftsmanship of its subject.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fryar is such pleasant company that the film's weaknesses can be overlooked.

October 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

On a smaller, less-cosmic scale of appreciation, Pearl's uplifting story is a welcome reminder that any pursuit of growth and nurturing will yield unexpectedly wonderful dividends.

August 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A Man Named Pearl not only makes you want to get out there and play Edward Scissorhands but can, at least for its 78 jazz-and-gospel infused minutes, help replenish one's faith in humanity.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Meet the real-life Edward Scissorhands, Pearl Fryar.

July 18, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This documentary is a head-over-heels tribute to Pearl Fryer, a man who is extraordinary--and not just 'cause his name is Pearl!

May 26, 2009 Full Review Source:

A heartwarming but superficial documentary that's saved from hagiography primarily by the humility and charm of its subject.

October 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

An engaging, albeit superficial, look at a man and his creations.

August 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Denton Record Chronicle (TX)
Denton Record Chronicle (TX)

One of those hidden treasures of the art house that it's your duty to seek out.

August 15, 2008 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Conflict and controversy are the breeding ground for story, and A Man Named Pearl -- for all its beauty and inspiration -- is sorely lacking in these elements.

August 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Unlike so many documentaries that exploit stereotypes of Southern ignorance, the people of Bishopville come off as intelligent and articulate, with an acute awareness of their shortcomings in the evolution toward more equitable race relations.

August 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Pleasant enough dollop of inspiration about 68-year-old Pearl Fryar, who turns his depressed South Carolina hometown into a tourist destination.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

This would have worked better as a short documentary.

July 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Film Threat | Comment (1)
Film Threat

[This] irresistible documentary about self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar is a portrait of a polite, church-going, thoroughly decent man who found his bliss training and trimming discarded plants into fantastical things of beauty.

July 18, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Despite the kid-glove questioning, the film ends on an uplifting sentiment.

July 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

An extraordinary documentary about a talented African-American, a garden of exquisite beauty and love, and a community that has been brought to life by his artistry, enthusiasm,and generosity.

July 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

A touching bio-pic about a humble soul who encountered racism and responded with love, peace and goodwill towards all people.

July 17, 2008 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Audience Reviews for A Man Named Pearl

Reminiscent of early Errol Morris films, "A Man Named Pearl" is an inspiring documentary about topiary gardening and how one man can affect the world around him for the better. And nowhere is that more needed than Bishopville, SC, located between Columbia and Florence, which is in the poorest county of a poor state. The solution comes in the person of Pearl Fryar, son of a sharecropper, and his impressive topiary garden, achieved without any formal training. It's a good thing because then he might have realized what he was doing was impossible. People come in buses to see his garden which brings tourist dollars to the area and in return, he brings his gardens to downtown. All of which at the age of 66 makes him the unlikeliest of sex symbols. Pearl, who happens to be black, is surprised that his best friend is the daughter of a lawyer and a lot of his friends shown are white while all of his neighbors are black. Even though Pearl's hero is Jackie Robinson, who would have thought we would be talking about segregation in the twenty-first century?
May 4, 2011
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A simple straightforward U.S documentary about Pearl Fryar, family man, amateur gardener and visionnary. He started small, aiming to win best heighbourhood garden, and just kept going until X years later and the film shows what he created in all its unique beauty. With everbody around him now jumping enthusiastically on the commerical bandwagon.. in particular the local reverend making sure God gets most of the credit.... Pearl just keeps quietly doing what he's always done, trimming those hedges.

December 17, 2010
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

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