• R, 1 hr. 50 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Marcos Siega
    In Theaters:
    Aug 12, 2005 Wide
    On DVD:
    Dec 13, 2005
  • Samuel Goldwyn Films


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Pretty Persuasion Reviews

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Dean !

Super Reviewer

December 24, 2007
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.
Jennifer X

Super Reviewer

November 2, 2008
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.

Super Reviewer

July 8, 2010
"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.

Super Reviewer

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

Super Reviewer

July 31, 2007
I loved EVR in here...I love her in just about everything she does. She did awesome playing the evil, manipulative Kimberly.
Alice S

Super Reviewer

July 17, 2008
Chilling and red-hot. Sometimes I dig ERW's deadpan, but other times not. Kimberly shouldn't have cried at the end. While a great piece of acting from ERW, having the she-devil realize the repercussions of her actions strips away the satire and IRONY!!! and makes it a morality tale.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

April 5, 2007
Dark, politically incorrect and absolutely hilarious. Had me laughing out loud. A real smart and sexy teen flick, unsuitable for most teenagers. Wood, Woods and Livingstone are incredible as are the supporting cast. The film loses half a star for a slightly confused ending which brings the film to a downer. Otherwise it is sharp, observent and deadly seductive.

Super Reviewer

October 29, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]In "Pretty Persuasion", Randa(Adi Schnall) is from the Middle East and the new girl in school at the elite Roxbury Academy in Beverly Hills. She is quickly taken under the wing of Kimberly Joyce(Evan Rachel Wood), an aspiring actress, who has just gotten the lead in the schol play of "Diary of Anne Frank", beating out her best friend, Brittany(Elisabeth Harnois). Kimberly is an intelligent but lazy student whose father(James Woods) is a self-made man who is currently on his third wife(trophy division) and putting it gently, a bigot. All three girls are close and hang out together all the time. They also accuse their English and drama teacher, Mr. Anderson(Ron Livingston), of sexually assaulting them.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Pretty Persuasion" is a dark comedy that manages to get more cynical as it goes along with a devastating conclusion but it does seem very familiar. It desperately wants to be a commentary on the lack of spirituality(everybody is guilty of something in this movie) and the misleading influences in modern society but since when is a woman's ambition one of the seven deadly sins? It is partially redeemed by a demented performance by James Woods and a commanding one by Evan Rachel Wood in the lead.[/font]
Wu C

Super Reviewer

September 11, 2006
A true dark comedy that never let's up. I wanted to see this for a while and it was worth it.
Adam M

Super Reviewer

December 19, 2009
Black comedy/drama with Evan Rachel Wood as a manipulative high school girl who persuades two friends to accuse a male teacher of sexual harrassment. As the film goes on we find out Wood's character is pretty evil and being a bitch. Why, we don't know until the end but its often funny and sometimes offensive finding out! With Evan Rachel Wood giving another great performance and also a brilliant supporting role from James Woods. Good script and story. Well acted. Worth a look.

Super Reviewer

May 31, 2009
"Randa, what's the greatest thing about this country? Sylvester Stallone? No. It's that anybody can sue anybody at anytime over anything."
An excellent dark comedy about American values.
Great cast with among others James Woods, Elisabeth Harnois, Adi Schnall, Ron Livingston, Jane Krakowski and the brilliant Evan Rachel Wood in the lead.
Laurence C

Super Reviewer

October 17, 2006
At times witty and at times irritating, Marcos Siega's Pretty Persuasion has trouble working as an actual movie with complete characters and convincing dialogue, especially in its first third and nearby its conclusion. But there are at least a good, sustained 50 minutes where it all works just as intended-- merciless, hysterical shotgun satirizing. But, you know... it's so damn tough to buy in a film when you know everyone's on the joke, in front and behind the camera. It always looks like somebody's about to crack up.

I'm not quire sure who's positionned as the target in Pretty Persuasion. Perhaps everyone onscreen-- overly manipulative & bored teenagers, repressed high school teachers, scandal-hungry journalists or rich'n'distant parents. The finale seems to hinge on how pointless all of this ruckus was-- a feeling you can sort of get about the movie, as a thematical whole.

Nevertheless, this vagueness in aim in the writing is mostly compensated by some diabolically effective one-liners and a near-perfect ensemble cast, starting by Evan Rachel Wood. As of now, the ridiculously pretty and enormously talented young actress has positionned herself as one of Hollywood's most promising talents-- and you can see why In Pretty Persuasion. Inhabiting a dangerously clever (but monstrously insensitive) 15-year old harpy from top to bottom, she distances herself from the nice-but-troubled blondie roles that put her in the spotlight with just enough irony to avoid phoning in a gigantic, twisted parody of movie mean girls. Also impressive is Elizabeth Harnois as her weak, admirative but just as proud best friend. Ron Livingston is also well-cast as the innocent teacher accused of sexual molestation who is too ashamed of his own urges to truly stand for his own defense. The supporting performers are at times a little broad, especially Jane Krakowski, but mostly everyone is working on the same page.

I am not sure if I can call Pretty Persuasion a worthy effort-- sometimes, the line separating funny and outright offensive feels a little too thin. Nevertheless, it has balls. Oh, yes it does. And that... that's something most high school comedies desperately lack.
Lovable M

Super Reviewer

November 17, 2008
Interesting dark comedy.
The movie is basically all about exploitation and manipulation. This movie is so wrong in many ways and completely derogatory as well, but that's what makes the film great.
Sunil J

Super Reviewer

June 30, 2008
Kinda sick in multiple ways. A bad movie that tries to get your attention by pushing way too many buttons.
Mr. C

Super Reviewer

May 14, 2008
Imagine a less sexy, more warped, less entertaining version of Wild Things. Dismal & a bore. Had a chance to say something profound with the racial angle, but never delivered. Some eye candy & a strong performance by James Woods, is the only thing that saved this from getting 1/2 a star.
Robert F

Super Reviewer

April 7, 2007
Good fun! The ending disappointed me a little. *SPOILER* It was kind of like one of those, "And then I woke up and it was all a dream" endings. But the cast was excellent, namely Evan Rachel Wood, James Woods and Jane Krakowski. I felt sorry for Kathy though.

Super Reviewer

March 7, 2007
Tonally, this is one of the odder films of recent memory. It ackwardly straddles the line between black comedy, satire, social commentary and parable never quite finding its stride. The film is brave, insightful, wicked but never goes for broke, its focus is either too broad or too narrow, so it does not truly work.

However, the performances are great (Evan Rachel Wood is the standout, and is almost unrecognizable here as she is better known for her gentler, kinder roles), the dialogue is very strong (the writer has a gift for incisive speech that cuts through the bullshit, and Evan Rachel Wood's character in particular speaks in a rehearsed, scripted manner that is very appropriate) and the direction is surprisingly strong, it manages to take the film seriously and never comes out the worse for it.

The ending raises several themes, but the film has not developped them enough by this point to earn them. All of them are interesting (though one seems to betray the film's satiric/cynical ways) but could and should have been handled differently. Had they not appeared at the end, odds are no one would have noticed or missed them.

The film does not work. However, I refuse to fault a picture for being too intelligent for its own good. I would much rather watch a film that fails because it tries to do too much than too little, hence I am endorsing this one. It may not work, but it is very interesting to sit through.
May 13, 2010
Very Trendy subject matter. Shows how a lie can be told and be taken to be true doing much damage. Like Oscar Wilde," The truth is tying its shoelaces while a lie has gone around the world and back."
December 14, 2008
Brittany Wells: "I like this music. Can you buy the soundtrack to pornos?
Kimberly Joyce: Tiffany Minx, Stephanie Swift... You know, Brittany, a lot of these porn stars have names that sound like ours. So if we wanted to, when we grow up, we could be porn stars. You couldn't, Randa. I'm sorry.
Randa: That is quite all right."

The setting is one of California's fanciest and swankiest private schools. Our tour guide is the achingly beautiful and effortlessly cruel Kimberly Joyce. Kim thinks she's a kind-hearted and open-minded little ingenue, yet it only takes a few short minutes before we realize there's a black soul hidden beneath this lovely exterior. Kim is leading a school tour for Randa, a soft-spoken Hindu girl who is new on campus. Along with her adorable-yet-obtuse best friend Brittany, Kim takes Randa under her wing, intent on introducing Randa to what their world is all about: basically she teaches the fine art of sexual manipulation, intolerance and venomous selfishness. After a series of events been left undisclosed here, the trio hatches a detestable scheme to shame one of their least-admired educators. Kim, Britt and Randa file false accusations of sexual abuse against their English teacher.

Mr. Anderson: "Kimberly Joyce, you have the face of an angel. Throw in a ripe, little pubescent body - the devil wears a gray skirt, my friend."

A teenage version of "To Die For" whose flaws are superceded by a complex, compelling turn from Evan Rachel Wood. A high school send-up more incorrect than "Heathers" and considerably less articulate than "Election". "Pretty Persuasion" is too flip to be serious and too smug to be rousing. And by the time we get around to the big reveal, which feels shoe-horned into the ending, the idea that a puppet master like Kimberly would expend her considerable gifts on the most banal of high school dramas feels ludicrous.
September 8, 2008
The devil wears a grey skirt...
This is a pretty good dark comedy with an excellent performance by James Woods. Evan Rachael Wood plays probably the meanest High School preppy I have seen in a movie in a long time. Kimberly (Wood) and two friends frame one of their teachers for sexual harrasment, but Kimberly has alterior motives for the frame... Some pretty ugly racist remarkes are made in this movie.. So, if you take things to heart this isn't the movie for you.
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