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Pretty Persuasion (2005)



Average Rating: 5/10
Reviews Counted: 77
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 52

Pretty Persuasion aims for high satire but falls short of poignancy by depending on too much black humor, with too little redeeming humanity to provide balance.


Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 29
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 24

Pretty Persuasion aims for high satire but falls short of poignancy by depending on too much black humor, with too little redeeming humanity to provide balance.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 9,575

My Rating

Movie Info

One of the "popular girls" decides to put her mean streak to work in this black comedy. Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood) is an outwardly friendly but inwardly cold and manipulative teenager who attends an exclusive private school in Beverly Hills when she's not making fun of her twentysomething stepmother (Jaime King) or listening to her business mogul father (James Woods) rant about the many people he hates. Kimberly's best friend is Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois), who doesn't seem to notice


Drama, Comedy

Skander Halim

Dec 13, 2005


Samuel Goldwyn Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (86) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (52) | DVD (7)

Good writing aside, this screenplay contained the elements of two different films. One of them might have been quite persuasive.

September 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Comment (1)
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Extremely well written in the fearless way of a smarty pants on a roll in the university cafeteria.

September 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wood's fine work is undermined by the movie it's trapped in, which feels like a rough draft of itself: Skander Halim's screenplay is unnecessarily twisty and gimmicky, and some of the teenspeak dialogue falls flat, already out of date.

September 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The screenplay by Skander Halim falters. It's too convoluted and cloudy to have the intended effect.

September 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Self-conscious, overdone, shallow, and just not up to the level of its star.

September 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is as disturbing as it is amusing, reveling in the hypocrisy of its hopelessly dysfunctional world.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Probably the darkest high school film since Heathers, which is no bad thing.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Solid performances make it work, even if the film seems slightly undernourished.

June 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

a dark teen comedy that tries way too hard to be a dark teen comedy

October 16, 2005 Full Review Source:

The very dark comedy is about the crossing point of righteousness and exploitation.

October 11, 2005 Full Review

The movie -- a variation on the standard teen comedy -- is quirky and funny, but ever so dark.

October 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

“Pretty Persuasion” is a formidable effort that shows how powerful, rich, pretty young girls might get their way if they just stop feeling and just start thinking.

September 30, 2005 Full Review
Pasadena Weekly

An often-funny movie that has two dumb ideas for every good one.

September 29, 2005 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Muckrakes in such a convoluted, bizarre way that it threatens to become what it seems to be satirizing: A racist, homophobic, mean-spirited tract.

September 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Matches the glossy, calculated kinkiness of a pay-cable television series to a story that unfolds like a Young Adult author's stab at a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

September 23, 2005
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Scathing and hilarious social satire.

September 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

A work sufficiently slick and accomplished that you derive a level of pleasure, despite your better instincts.

September 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Oregonian

performances are so unreal and lifeless that I kept expecting to see mechanical parts start dangling out of the people's heads.

September 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

A lack of real satirical bite is incongruously accompanied by a smug sense of self-importance in this shrill but toothless movie.

September 6, 2005 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Kimberly warns that 'every war has its casualties' - you pick a fight with her and you're gonna be on that 'notify my next of kin' list... wickedly funny.

September 2, 2005 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Pretty Persuasion

Hmm this wasn't what I expected at all. It takes a bit from quite a few bigger and better films and ends up no where near as good as any of them. It has a touch of Mean girls, Election, Cruel intentions and mostly plot wise Wild things. However without being as dramatic, shocking, sexy or as intelligent as any of them. If you like the above you might want to check it out, otherwise make sure you see the films mentioned, as they have similar story lines but are much better films.
January 26, 2012

Super Reviewer

This is the textbook definition of vicious self-satisfaction. Evan Rachel Wood's hilarious deadpan steamrollers over everything she touches. The way she holds herself with such decisive control is impressive at such a young age (I can kind of imagine Dakota Fanning in something of this role in the future, actually) and she is the one that makes this movie THE best out of all its precedents (Heathers, Cruel Intentions). It was necessary for this movie to be independently made because the straight-up racism wouldn't have been approved anywhere else. And the racism and gutsy ventures into taboo territory are what make this movie unforgettable.But even though I really, really enjoyed this movie, it lacked the balls to make the full vitriolic monty, opting for the redemption arc instead, with internal turmoil + tears+ all. Come on people, we don't live in the age of the Hays code anymore - not everything has to end for the good.
July 30, 2011

Super Reviewer

"Evil comes in a school uniform."

A 15-year-old girl incites chaos among her friends and a media frenzy when she accuses her drama teacher of sexual harassment.

The first feature film from director Marcos Siega is off beat as both a comedy and drama. The viewer finds himself in situations of uncomfortable, guilty laughter while at the same time mesmerized by the social topics and excellent acting. The cadence of the dialogue is beyond description and is perfectly displayed at the dinner table with Evan Rachel Woods, her dad played by an over the top James Woods and her new step mom. The family dog plays a big part in the "conversation".

The heart of the story is the devilishly orchestrated false (or are they?) accusations of sexual harassment against drama teacher Ron Livingston. With so many different agendas at play, we can't help but be drawn into to this story on many levels. Jane Krakowski shows a real Priscilla Presley side as the lesbian, glory-hound reporter. Selma Blair is terrific as Livingston's semi-supportive wife.

Make no mistake, the real star of the film, and the reason it works is the extraordinary talents of Evan Rachel Wood. Wood takes teen ego and self-centeredness and revenge to a whole new level. As one of the male teacher's states, her character is the devil. Watching how she manipulates her friends, teachers, boys and adults is quite the guilty pleasure. Very few actresses her age could pull off the role of this complex character.
July 8, 2010
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

The Horror Movies with Nuns are the creepy ones. Where there are Nuns in a Movie, a guarantee of a lot of violence.
December 15, 2009
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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