The Pearl Button (El botón de nácar)

Critics Consensus

Deliberately paced yet hypnotically absorbing, The Pearl Button offers a poetic look at the wonders of the natural world -- and humanity's place among them.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 393
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Movie Info

The ocean contains the history of all humanity. The sea holds the voices of the Earth and those that come from outer space. Water receives impetus from the stars and transmits it to living creatures. Water, the longest border in Chile, also holds the secret of a mysterious button that was discovered in its seabed. Chile, with its 2,670 miles of coastline, the largest archipelago in the world, presents a supernatural landscape. In it are volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. In it are the voices of the Patagonian indigenous people, of the first English sailors and also those of its political prisoners. Some say that water has memory. This film shows that it also has a voice.


Critic Reviews for The Pearl Button (El botón de nácar)

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (3)

  • This haunting Chilean documentary is more poetry than journalism as filmmaker Patricio Guzman compares the fate of the indigenous people of Patagonia with that of the disappeared of the Pinochet regime.

    Apr 8, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • The Pearl Button is a piece of visual poetry that meanders along the waterways, coastline and history of Chile, coming into sharp and horrifying focus on the atrocities of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.

    Mar 18, 2016 | Rating: 4/5

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • A sobering, lyrical essay film on Chile's various physical and emotional surface areas.

    Mar 18, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Guzmán's reputation as one of the great documentarians will only be enhanced by The Pearl Button. It really is intelligent, magnificent film-making.

    Mar 17, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Andrew Pulver

    Top Critic
  • Another philosophical and cosmic historical documentary.

    Mar 14, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • This is history of a personalized and meditative sort, and you ought to give it a chance.

    Dec 3, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Pearl Button (El botón de nácar)

  • Aug 06, 2015
    First film I viewed at the Melbourne International Film Festival of 2015, a beautifully shot and composed documentary, focusing on the primitive Chilean water landscapes and culture along the country's boarder/coast. A lot of great insight into the mystical understanding of this culture as well as how long it has survived up til modern times. Its big essential viewing on subjects I wouldn't have ever known, especially about Chile's past dealt with dark and intimidating historical stories that are really fascinating.
    Luke E Super Reviewer
  • Jul 19, 2015
    The rambling nature of Guzmán's poetic digressions makes this film frustrating despite his sensitive intentions, and so it seems more like a mixed bag of cheesy esoteric assertions about water and random musings on indigenous people, dictatorships, pearl buttons and supernovas.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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