A manipulative high school teenager (Evan Rachel Wood, Across the Universe) falsely accuses her teacher (Ron Livingston, The Time Traveler’s Wife) of sexual harassment as part of an elaborate scheme.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Aptly described as a cross between Michael Lehmann’s Heathers (1988) and Alexander Payne’s Election (1999), Pretty Persuasion is an irreverent, edgy, often profane and very dark satire that makes fun of the United States’ mores and values.
Everything from sexual repression, xenophobia, media manipulation, racism, gender identity, etc., you name it, the film leaves no stone unturned. It does miss the bull’s-eye by a few yards, but I found its moxieness hard to resist and the jokes are hilarious!
Director Marcos Siega and writer Skander Halim are equal opportunity offenders. There is something here to offend everyone. However, the insults have a purpose; they point at the cracks in our society, hoping awareness of facts is the beginning of wisdom — there is nothing better than humor to shed light on important societal problems.
The underrated Evan Rachel Wood is fantastic. And I really don’t know how they got the notoriously right-wing actor James Woods (Videodrome) to play (guess what?) a right-wing monster — this is self-deprecating humor on steroids!
Also with Jane Krakowski (TV’s Ally McBeal) as a ruthless TV reporter, Selma Blair (Hellboy) as Ron Livingston’s girlfriend and Michael Hitchcock (House Arrest) as the Headmaster. Octavia Spencer (The Help) has a tiny role.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Pretty Persuasion is one big magnifier placed above the American status quo. It challenges us to rethink the way we do things — that’s what great art and literature are supposed to do. Beware: bad triumphs over good, so this is not a movie to watch when you’re feeling down. Highly recommended! Color, 104 minutes, Rated R.