So, I didn’t think the Lifetime adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ Ruby was all that bad, honestly. I liked the actresses who play the series’ twins, and I didn’t hate Beau. In this next movie, we follow Ruby and Giselle off to their private boarding school. What random 2nd book irrelevant antics will befall them? Let’s find out in my review of Lifetime’s adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ Pearl in the Mist.
Some Notes Going In
I actually haven’t had the chance to read Pearl in the Mist yet. Why, you might ask? Well, I discovered V.C. Andrews at the thrift store in the early aughts, and at the time the shelves would ALWAYS be flooded with used copies of V.C. Andrews books , but never the ones you actually needed to read in order. I found my copy of Ruby but could never get my hands on the second book in the series. Finally, I caved and signed out a copy of All that Glitters (the third book) from the library. I assumed that nothing major had happened, but colour me surprised.
Some stuff of relevance happens, though of course much of the series from this point isn’t entirely fresh in my memory.
Off to School
We start off with Ruby and Giselle setting off for the Greenwood School for Girls. Ruby, now the apple of her Daddy’s eye, gains some extra scorn points from the now paralysed Giselle. Once at the dorm, Giselle finds the first unsuspecting girl to make her slave, because she’s paralysed and uses this to her advantage. I guess, go her?
We also meet Mrs. Penny, the most amazing dorm mother any girl could ever ask for. She’s GIDDY AF in every scene she bursts into, and I am all for that shit.
Next up is orientation, run by the stern Mrs. Ironwood, who says that the school will not tolerate alcohol or drugs or promiscuity at all. Giselle complains of this later with the other girls in the dorm, when a new girl, Abby, walks in late. Still without a roomie, Ruby latches onto Abby, complimenting her on her, uh, tanned skin.
Abby: *awkward* I guess I tan easily.
Ruby: I burn easily. Redhead, you know?
And I was like, oooookay, we’re going there. Turns out that Greenwood treats mixed-race kids (or “half-breeds”, as Abby refers to herself) the same way the British Monarchy treats Meghan Markle, and somehow the entire school — including Ruby, who befriended many black people on the bayou — is colour-blind just enough to think that Abby spent her entire summer on the beach? I don’t buy that obvious non-canonical character ignorance just to fulfil a plot point, but FINE LIFETIME.
Abby eventually spills her mixed-race beans to Ruby, who gets all Justin Trudeau about it by stating, “IT IS 1962, FOR GOD’S SAKE!” as if that’s gonna stop obvious future plot developments from happening.
SPOILER: IT WON’T
Cut to art class, where Miss Stevens, the art teacher with a suspiciously not-early 1960s pixie cut, gets the girls to paint a boot and praises Ruby on her talent. We don’t get the chance to appreciate Miss Stevens for long, though, because Mrs. Penny arrives to pull Ruby off to Mrs. Ironwood’s office to get told off for being a promiscuous Cajun girl.
Ruby cries in some far-off part of campus, where she and Abby discuss both being “outsiders”. Then a sexy groundskeeper confronts them for being there, saying that they can’t be around him, or on the grounds after dark. They admire his muscles, and Ruby looks him over particularly lustily.
Later, she eye-fucks him again when the girls from the dorm head to the house of Greenwood’s most charitable donor, Mrs. Clairborne. Once inside, Ruby takes quick notice of the fact that all the clocks in the house are stuck at 5:02PM.
The Sexy Piano-Playing Blind Guy
Mrs. Clairborne proves herself quite the stick in the mud. None of the girls seem to enjoy their visit, save for Ruby, who delights when Mrs. Clairborne allows her to wander off and look at her oRiGiNaL VanGogh painting. Ruby then hears piano music playing, and she wanders upstairs to find a Ben Shapiro playing his best Edward Cullen angsty piano in a room all by himself. His name’s actually Louis Clairborne, and he’s the grandson of Mrs. Clairborne (and nephew of Mrs. Ironwood!). To me, just’s just got that Ben Shaprio jawline and matter-of-fact obnoxious AF way of speaking.
He’s also blind, which he exposits to Ruby and to the viewers in case we didn’t understand why his stare was so blank in the first place. The two get acquainted, but then Louis sends her off right quick.
Later, when returning to the dorm, Ruby laments how fun it was to meet Louis, which sends Mrs. Penny into rightful hysterics that Ruby shouldn’t have gone off or talked to him at all. On account of THE TRAGEDY!!!!!
The girls egg Mrs. Penny on, and she eventually lets slip that the Mrs. Clairborne’s daughter and son-in-law died. Giselle suggests that they were murdered.
Mrs. Penny: What happened in is the Clairborne’s business and not for us to gossip about. That poor boy Louis was left an orphan and blind from his grief.
Abby: But…isn’t that gossip, Mrs. Penny?
The “Clairborne Secret”
Back in the dorm, Ruby dries her already dry hair in front of the window while sexy groundskeeper Buck watches her through the window. Giselle overhears Ruby and Abby speculating what the “Clairbone Secret” is. Abby mentions that she doesn’t mind not knowing so long as nobody knows that she’s Meghan Markle in disguise. Giselle wants to trade secrets, but Abby keeps her cards close to the vest.
Later, Ruby paints with Miss Stevens, but then goes on to eyefuck Groundskeeper Buck. Miss Stevens catches her and Ruby suggests Buck is too old and that Miss Stevens should date him. But Buck isn’t actually Miss Stevens’ type, which Ruby fails to catch onto. No matter, because Miss Stevens knows what the “Clairborne Secret” is.
Turns out Louis Clairborne’s mother was having an affair with a much younger man. His father caught her in the act and ultimately ended up smothering her with a pillow. She didn’t put up much of a fight and took like 5 seconds to die and then the father shot himself, all while Louis was watching. The shock sent him right into a coma. Then, when he woke up, he was blind.
The next day, Mrs. Penny comes in to break news that Ruby has been invited back to the Clairborne house. There, she has dinner with Louis and his grandmother. Later, she’s back with him in the piano room, letting him play all his “guitar guy at the party” moves on her, but, you know, with a piano. He plays all the classics like “Chopsticks” and “Moonlight Sonata”.
Ruby quickly gets WAP and leans her head on Louis’ shoulder. This catches Louis off-guard and Ruby’s like, OH, I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE I LAID MY HEAD ON YOUR SHOULDER! Louis admits that he’s never been alone with a girl and Ruby lets him touch her face. Then Ruby gets the great idea to let him kiss her but she literally doesn’t lead him or give him any idea where her face is. So when he leans in and misses, Ruby has the absolute gall to laugh at him.
“Don’t be so stiff,” she says, though Louis is rightfully hurt and also kind of over-reacts by spinning around and storming off.
Beau comes to visit and they head off to make out in a barn. Beau stops her and gets all asshole about it: “Maybe we should stop because I know where this is going, or rather, where it’s NOT GOING.”
Ruby unbuttons her shirt and claims that they’ve waited long enough. Then, later on, she goes to the dance with the nearby boy’s school. Before the party starts, Giselle gives Abby a flower for her hair, claiming that they want her to be “queen of the fall mixer”.
Sodas are popped. Girls arrive in dresses that do their best attempt at pretending to wear early 1960s dresses while obviously wearing fast fashion polyester-lined dresses made by low-paid garment workers in China. Ruby flirts with Buck (to be polite, she claims), but he tells her that he can’t talk to her.
Boys pick girls to dance, but not Abby. The entire night, boys go out of their way to avoid her. Finally, Ruby snaps, but then Giselle takes the mic and announces Abby as the school’s first “half-breed fall mixer queen”. Abby takes the stage and defends herself, claiming to be too good to slap Giselle in the face. Which she is. Ruby, however, pushes Giselle out of her fucking wheelchair like a savage.
Like, girl, just tone it back a bit. Her disability has nothing to do with her bitchiness. Except that it kind of does? Because of Ruby? Right?
Least Abby saved face by getting out of there without resorting to violence.
Despite being “put on lockdown” over the dance incident, Ruby is permitted to go and visit Louis again. Apparently, he’s getting his eyesight back! Ruby head on over in the most amazing dress over, and the two hit it off before going to Louis’ room at Ruby’s request.
Louis has a massive painting of his mother in his room, and he says that his mother used to lay with him in bed and hold his hand at night. He then lays down and invites Ruby to do so as well.
“I want you to know how it was with us,” he says, explaining that she would take his hand and press it to her chest, and then she’d put her hand BETWEEN HIS FUCKING LEGS and ON HER BREASTS and that one night his father found them like that. He’d cry every night after that because he was scared, but his dad thought that Louis was crying for his mother so he whooped him silly with a belt.
Then Louis’ mother found another boy and Louis grew upset. Then the murder stuff happened and I was like HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL but you know, this is V.C. Andrews stuff, right? That’s the point.
A Death in the Family
Like many V.C. Andrews fathers before him, Pierre Dumas dies of a sudden heart attack and Ruby and Giselle get sent back home. Daphne takes the family reins, telling the girls they still both have their inheritance but that neither of them will be receiving any of the money until they’re 21. She expects both girls to behave themselves. Ruby asks if Daphne has told Uncle Jean about Pierre.
Daphne hasn’t, but has clearly taken to boning Pierre’s business partner, Bruce.
Ruby heads back to the mental hospital, shocked to find that Daphne has stopped paying for his private room. Now jammed in a ward with several other patients, Jean is worn and dishevelled, but his messy hair looks a lot sexier than his old pomade-buried hair, but maybe that’s just me. Ruby breaks the news of Pierre’s death and Jean obviously doesn’t react well. Like what the hell did you expect, Ruby?
Anyway, Ruby heads back home to confront Daphne, but Daphne obviously doesn’t give a shit. She stands up firm and tells Ruby that she can’t attend the funeral, and it’s at this point in the movie where the flaws in the Lifetime makeup department start to become quite obvious.
Like Daphne’s lipstick really could use a reapplication. Often times, Giselle’s lipstick is quite worn. And honestly, considering that there’s a scene in the first movie where Giselle shows Ruby how to blot her lipstick properly, you’d imagine her lips would be flawless but Giselle’s lipstick could always use a fucking touchup and she never gets it.
There’s a Whore in This House
Ruby spends one more night at home, but it’s a sad one, which is made obvious when the camera focuses on his sad gargoyle on the grounds that I’ve seen for like the 12th time in this series now.
Beau comes into her room and Ruby’s donning a sexy little negligee with ruffle panties that looks nothing like any of the billowy negligees featured on Mad Men. She tells Beau to lock the door because she “needs something nice to happen”, and so the two have passionate sex in front of the fire, which is kind of sad that that’s all Beau has become in this movie, is a good hard D.
Back at school, Ruby still has a WAP for Buck, who avoids her for like the 14th time. Then Ruby’s back at the Clairborne house with Louis while he’s playing a piano. He’s apparently started seeing a psychiatrist, who claims that he’s getting his sight back because he finally has somebody he can trust. Ruby admits that she has a boyfriend, but Louis says he knew all along and the two are suddenly just totes friends who never had any tension.
With that plot point out of the way, Ruby is dragged back to Mrs. Ironwood’s office. Mrs. Ironwood gives Ruby a signed confession from Buck stating that he and Ruby boned several times in the boathouse on campus. Mrs. Ironwood says that the confession gives “all the disgusting details” of their multiple trysts. But this is the literal confession, yo:
WHOA, salacious AF!
Ruby insists she’s innocent at her hearing. Then Louis comes in and saves the day by testifying that she was with him at the time of the claimed “tryst”. Mrs. Ironwood, however, refuses to take the testimony of a blind man, but Louis says that the butler saw Ruby, and then reads the time on the clock, proving that HE’S NOT ACTUALLY THAT BLIND!
Day saved, Ruby confronts the teacher who claimed to see Ruby and Buck together. The teacher insists she saw Ruby, which leads Ruby to believe that it was Giselle…who can’t walk. OR CAN SHE?!
Ruby sneaks into Giselle closet to find the ragged-ass blue suede ballet flats that the teacher saw on the girl who boned Buck. Then Giselle comes in and gets out of her wheelchair. Giselle’s got PLANS, yo, and she plans on keeping her newfound ability to magically walk again a secret until Christmas, and if Ruby plans on telling anyone that she’ll tell the school that Miss Stevens is a lesbian.
A Very Serious Boyfriend
Giselle gets to reveal her newfound ability to walk (which is so cringe, guys), but I guess it was a “magic” paralysis, so whatever? Daphne also reveals news that she and Bruce are engaged. This enrages Ruby, who claims that it’s only been two months and that Daphne has no business moving on from her precious father, but it doesn’t really matter much when Beau comes over and gives Ruby his class ring. They profess their love to each other and smash noses all over again.
After winter break, Giselle returns to school a proper Queen without her wheelchair. Ruby, however, finds out that Miss Stevens “resigned”, which Ruby doesn’t believe at all. Mrs. Ironwood claims that the school found Miss Stevens to be of “questionable moral character”, which is a whole lotta BS now but obviously wasn’t in 1962. Once again, Mad Men def handled this plot point a whole lot better.
Angry, Ruby goes out to confront Giselle about getting Miss Stevens fired, but then throws up all over the school grounds with that very special and very realistic Lifetime prop vomit. And we all know what random vomiting means, people!
Ruby is sent home to Daphne, who schedules Ruby a secret abortion and forbids her from ever seeing Beau again. Beau sneaks into the house and tries to get Ruby to run away with him before his parents can send him to go to school in France.
What is nice about all this, however, is that Ruby and Giselle do have a nice talk about using condoms, so there’s that, right? Safe sex talk between sisters? Even though it’s kind of too late for one of them?
Cut to the abortion clinic, which has the nastiest gynecological instruments of all time:
Like that one speculum is totally oxidized, yo. And the nurse even touches the blades with her bare hands when she sets them on the tray. And because this is a Lifetime movie, it’s impossible to tell if this is their way of conveying to the viewer that it’s an unsafe back-alley abortion clinic, or if their prop department really sucks that much? Because I literally cannot fucking tell.
Ruby obviously panics and runs away, stopping at the literal crossroads between Houma and New Orleans to call Paul Tate to get her. He drives Ruby back to her Grandmere’s cabin and pleads for her to stay with him. And hey, if it were me, I’d totes stay with Paul, who looks lot hotter this movie, mind you.
Ruby, however, decides to stick it out and live the whole montage cottagecore life on her own, painting and selling produce at the roadside stall. Then her belly gets big enough to maybe look like she’s just getting past 6 months, which I guess is enough for Lifetime to be like SHE’S DUE!!!!
A hurricane comes over the bayou and Paul comes in with a letter from Giselle. He wants her to go with him, but she insists on staying in the wind-ravaged cabin to read the letter, which flies out of the window that breaks from the legit hurricane-force winds. Paul tries to block the window with one weak-ass board.
Then Ruby’s contractions start and she screams on the floor until the screen goes black.
After the Storm
Ruby and Paul exit the storm-ravaged cabin, which isn’t so ravaged, after all, considering that all he has to do is right one bone-dry rocking chair on the veranda for Ruby to sit in. He asks if she’s picked a name for the baby, and Ruby has. It’s Pearl. Pearl Dumas? Or Landry? Or Tate?
Ruby then finds Giselle’s letter, which isn’t destroyed at all from all the rain. Giselle’s doing fine. Beau’s getting serious in France with some new girl. Daphne’s pissed that she’s now a GILF.
Giselle wonders if she and Ruby will ever see each other again…
I have trouble deciding if this move was better than Ruby or not? I mean, we got a pretty decent high school drama. It felt like a less complete episode of Gossip Girl, which was nostalgic to me. But having the extra characters crammed in there for no other reason than to give Giselle victims felt kind of silly. I liked Ruby’s friendship with both Abby and Miss Stevens but we didn’t really get to see much more past the tip of the iceberg for me to care about these characters, other than the fact that they were people of marginalized communities in a not-so-empathic time.
I did appreciate a few of the humorous dorm interactions between Giselle and Mrs. Penny.
As for Beau, well, he was very under-utilized and basically only ever came into play when Ruby needed a good distraction-lay. The plot just forces them to be in a relationship together, and while the actors have good chemistry on screen, the script doesn’t give them a whole lot of work with in order to cement their relationship in a believable way.
Lastly, I thought the “mystery” of Louis’ character was decently directed, considering that this is a Lifetime movie and not much time overall could have really been dedicated to that plot. Ruby still basically just attaches herself to him because he’s attractive, though, I and it’s a little inconsistent how she flirted with BOTH Louis and Buck throughout the film when she was supposedly also head over heels for Beau. It would have helped to get a bit more characterization focusing on her still feeling “lost” while navigating her world, but again, this is Lifetime and they don’t seem to know how to write characters for shit.
As a generalized softcore shock school drama, I thought Pearl in the Mist proved entertaining enough.