Pretty Persuasion Reviews

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February 21, 2015
Tries to be Mean Girls meets Heathers but falls way short of the mark.
½ August 14, 2012
Pretty interesting a few twist and turns and it doesn't end the way you think it will. Main reason to watch is for the smoking hot Evan Rachel Wood who looks the best I've seen her in this. Really well written movie that's worth checking out
September 13, 2007
This was a very dark comedy.
November 3, 2013
the title of the movie and the DVD cover looked so cool. but the story...hmmmmm... at least, i learned honesty and friendships are important.
June 10, 2006
I've heard mixed reviews, but it sounds interesting enough.
½ March 30, 2013
Hey, look! It's 'Election', but for smug idiots! And way more self-satisfied! This movie is a 14-year-old who uses the adjective 'Machiavellian' twice a week but has never actually read the the book. I would beg the writer to never, ever do it again, but I looked at his IMDB page, and it looks like a pretty safe bet that he already got that request loud and clear.
½ March 22, 2013

Fits nicely on the shelf, next to HEATHERS.
January 21, 2013
Pretty Persuasion is an intrigue that will leave you breathless with shock. It is devious, manipulative, and well thought out.

Each character has enough depth to be solidly constructed and give us meaningful dialogs. Sometimes, as we follow the main girl, it feels like a monologue, a dry one, but all of it points to a genius after what she wants.

The tone is just, some elements are a bit caricatural, but never over the top, just enough to resonate with the audience, and make a point. The whole setup is simple, like the editing, the camera shots, and the story, but it all to underline the razor precision of the mind behind it all. It makes the dramatic reveal even stronger.

Do not underestimate this film, it packs a moral punch.
January 11, 2013
Although it explores a number of rising modern issues, Pretty Persuasion drowns itself in its own satire.
January 6, 2013
well written, with wonderful perfomances by entire cast.
December 7, 2012
Could watch this sometime if i can find.
November 4, 2012
Brilliant performances and a cult classic.
September 13, 2012
I know that James Woods isn't the lead of Pretty Persuasion, but he's definitely the star in the five or so scenes that he gets. He plays the protagonist's father, a racist, sexist, neglectful father to Kimberly (Evan Rachel Woods). His scenes involve many rants about how everyone except someone in his position -- a wealthy, white, American male -- and then turning them around and explaining that these aren't things that he wants his daughter saying. After all, she goes to an exclusive private school, where even the slightest remark can get you kicked out of the drama club.

Kimberly is smart enough to know that her father's insane, so she keeps herself in check. This girl apparently broke school records with her IQ test, and that comes through in her dialogue. Her vocabulary is impeccable, and the cool demeanor she keeps shows us that she always knows what to do in any given situation. She always gives off the appearance that she has a plan, and it doesn't matter what anyone else does about it; she'll outsmart you almost instantly and the plan will come to fruition. She's like Tracy Flick, except she's most certainly the lead. She might be smarter, too.

Kimberly has two female friends at this school, a new student named Randa (Adi Schnall), who is taken under her wing since she's new in the country and obviously needs the social help. There's also Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois), who is now dating Kimberly's former boyfriend. They've remained friends anyway, and they even have a secret handshake. "The best of friends," we're told. The only other important character comes in the form of the English/Drama teacher at the school, Mr. Anderson (Ron Livingston), who is suitably creepy in the role.

The story eventually hinges on a courtroom battle between Mr. Anderson and the three girls, who decide one night to come forward with sexual assault allegations against their teacher. Are they warranted? We're not initially sure. There are a couple of situations in which the girls might have been assaulted, but the filmmakers choose to hide them in order to keep the ambiguity for as long as possible. Mr. Anderson certainly has dark thoughts in his mind, but whether he acted on them or not is something that the court will have to settle.

Pretty Persuasion tries to balance being a black comedy, a satire, and a drama. It's not entirely successful -- certain elements come through more often than others, and some of them fall flat -- but it's ambitious and I did laugh quite frequently throughout. It deals with a ton of issues in American culture, using its super intelligent character, her Arab sidekick and racist father to do so. I'm almost surprised that Randa and James Woods' character never came face to face, but maybe a line was drawn somewhere.

I don't think that the movie is mean spirited, but the characters within it certainly were. In trying to make a point, the writers of these characters very possibly are going to turn away some members of the audience. There is a lot of seemingly racial hatred in Pretty Persuasion, and while it was over-the-top and done for comedic effect, it was also occasionally grating and unnecessary. I don't necessarily object to it, but I know people who do and wouldn't even consider sitting through a movie like this. Just be aware.

The final twist was also a bit of a letdown, just like a major point that preceded it was. Both were supposed to be major dramatic events, but both fell kind of flat. I was done with the story when it should have ended, but the film continued to press on, unnecessarily. Looking back on it, I can see what the filmmakers were going for with this ending sequence, but it doesn't have the poignancy that you'd expect if you were to just read about it.

Admittedly, it's kind of hard to actually root for anyone in this film. It's intriguing, yes, but everyone is so mean and spiteful or downright creepy that if something bad happens to them, it's difficult to be too upset. This is a movie in which you like the actors and you like the characters as a result of that, but the characters themselves aren't endearing in any way, and if played by unknown actors, you might find yourself despising them.

Then again, the dialogue is so sharp and the targets so numerous that it's possible you'd be engaged anyway. Pretty much anyone that the film deems as "wrong" is going to be a target in this film, and it's enjoyable to see the methods that it uses to take shots at them. The constant flashbacks also help to hold your interest, as certain events were obscured earlier, and the flashbacks reveal to you just what actually happened. Of course, maybe there's an unreliable narrator thrown in as well. That's always a possibility.

Pretty Persuasion is a good film but isn't as smart or clever as it wants to be, and is also a bit too mean-spirited for some audience members. But if you're not bothered by near-constant racial slurs and insults aimed at all groups of people, then you'll find a sharp satire that's consistently funny and will make you laugh with its social commentary, led by a strong performance by Evan Rachel wood and a scene-stealing one turned in by James Woods.
August 30, 2012
An interesting little dark comedy about the consequences of actions with some surprising twists and turns with some unexpected social/political subtext.
July 19, 2012
Has its fails and shallows, but I wish there were more movies in this cathegory made in US. It's low point is the satirization of teen life which, let's face it, is a tough stuff to do satirize if it has already bean homogenized in our culture to the point of grotesque. Yet, the screenplay is a masterpiece. Maybe if it was made in Europe, it would be less of a lifetime movie, but the ending brings a conclusion, not a happy ending, but a bitter aftertaste. Not bad at all.
½ July 15, 2012
Tried way way too hard to be edgy. Stupid movie. Still a big fan of Evan Rachel Wood, though.
May 7, 2012
At first I felt this film was a falling flat and the jokes weren't particularly landing well but in the end I was thoroughly charmed by this sadistic little indie movie and most of that is due to a devastatingly charismatic performance from Evan Rachel Wood who not only seems to delight in the naughtiness of her role but is also so good at flippant cynicism that as rude or as immoral as her character gets you find it impossible to hate her. "Pretty Persuasion" has flaws but if you enjoy scathing black comedies and cult teen movies such as "Heathers," "Election," "Cruel Intentions" or "Drop Dead Gorgeous" then I guarantee you will be a fan of this one too.
April 27, 2012
Amusing non-sequitors adding up to nothing.
April 13, 2012
I really liked the ending of this movie. Seriously. If you think about it, there is a lot beneath the surface here. Also, I majorly identify with the Arab chick. I forget her name.
March 20, 2012
This film started out good... but the ending left me enraged and upset. The bulk of the story was interesting enough and overall the movie was actually pretty smart. However, the main protagonist has no redeeming qualities and I feel no sympathy for her. In fact, I outright hate this girl. Kimberly would have been a great character if there was more insight, but she just comes off as another spoiled, manipulative, cold, heartless bitch who would stab her best friend in the back over her own personal issues with self-loathing. The fact is, when I watched this movie, at the end I wanted some kind of retribution for everything she had done... but never got it. There just isn't anyone you can cheer for in this movie. Any other character in the movie is just so underdeveloped and, well, stupid that you have no other choice but to think everyone got what they deserved....EXCEPT THE MANIPULATIVE KIMBERLY! Actually, I would have overlooked all the film's flaws if the movie had just at least given the audience what they wanted: Kimberly to pay. But instead you get this tearful self-absorbed, self-conscience, empty "I got what I wanted but it wasn't worth it" type crap. Like I said earlier, this isn't a bad movie... at least not until the very end. You are lead to believe that maybe - just MAYBE - she'll get her just desserts only to have those expectations dashed. Maybe that was the point of the film, but if it was, it's a bad one. James Woods stands out as the main attraction only because he seems to have fleshed out his character the most. Well, actually the cast and the acting was pretty good all around. The problem is with the ending! I HATED HOW IT ENDED!
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