Pearl, a six minute animated short film, is the story of a father and daughter (Pearl). It starts with them on the road when Pearl is a very young child. They live in their car, as the dad roams around the country with his guitar eking out a living as best he can, playing what gigs are available, or just busking on the street for whatever coins people are nice enough to toss him and his little girl.

It strikes me as the kind of life that looks better in retrospect than when you’re actually living it. Which is not to say it’s a bad life at the time, just that like any life it’s a mix of good and bad, comfort and discomfort, etc., but that it has enough high points and adventure to it that it becomes your “good old days.”

And I think that’s how the characters react to it. Eventually the father decides that whatever there is to like about this kind of life on the road, it’s just not responsible to make a little girl live out of a car and have so little financial or geographic stability, so he decides to grow up and get a modest house and a regular job. But for both him and Pearl there’s something about that time on the road, just the two of them, that they never let go of.

As she grows up, there are the usual ups and downs in their relationship, the conflicts, the generation gap communication problems, etc., but when the time comes she decides music is in her blood, and she puts together a band and hits the road. Mostly he’s content to let this be her time, her youth, but when he does have an opportunity to share the experience with her it is clearly a positive thing for both of them.

It’s impressive how much Pearl covers in just six minutes. You really get a sense of who these people are and how their lives develop over the course of a decade or two. It presents the itinerant musician lifestyle as having considerable appeal and as providing a valuable bonding opportunity for this particular father and daughter, yet it doesn’t romanticize it to an unrealistic degree.

It’s a nice little film that gave me a warm feeling.

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