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Friday, May 25, 2012

Pretty Persuasion

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

358: Pretty Persuasion (2005)


The Players:

Kimberly Joyce: Played by Evan Rachel Wood.  Our main precocious teen.  She wants to be an actress, and talks like screenwriters think intelligent teenagers talk.

Randa: Played by Adi Schnall.  Randa is new to the private school our precocious teens attend.  She is Muslim, and quiet.

Brittany: Played by Elisabeth Harnois.  Kimberly’s best friend. 

Percy Anderson: Played by Ron Livingston.  English/Drama teacher at the school the precocious teens attend.  He is all kinds of gross.

Grace Anderson: Played by Selma Blair.  Poor thing is married to the gross teacher who is accused of being inappropriate with his students.  In Selma Blair fashion, she is cluless and kind of clunky.

Emily Klein: Played by Jane Krakowski.  The news reporter who desperately wants to get out of doing fluff pieces and is covering the story.

Other people of note: James Woods is the asshole, racist father of Kimberly; Jaime King is his poor wife who puts up with way more than I ever would.

The Rundown:

We begin at an audition in which fifteen year old Kimberly has to do a sexy dance in stripper shoes, pretend to be a French exchange student who drops a baguette and has to bend over.  Subtle. 

Kimberly attends Roxbury Academy, where she meets new girl Randa, who is Muslim.  She takes Randa under her wing, and while she is explaining the way of the world to her in English class, their teacher (Percy Anderson) gives them detention.

Kimberly introduces Randa to her BFF Brittany, and they go check out the cast list for the school production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  They both want the lead, but Kimberly lands it over Brittany.

Detention: Mr. Anderson appears to be making inappropriate advances on Randa.  Kimberly observes this.

Dinner at the Joyce household: Precocious sexual remarks, anti-Semitic rantings,  brief phone call with distant mom. 

Dinner at the Anderson household: Gross man buys poor wife gray skirt, like the ones the girls at the school wear.  Ew.

We discover that Brittany has also had some inappropriate dealings with Mr. Anderson, and the girls decide to have a little get –together, during which they… smoke cigars, eat Twinkies, and watch porn?  Yeah, cause that’s what I did when I was fifteen…

Abruptly, Kimberly decides that they need to get back at Mr. Anderson for all of the bad things he supposedly did.  They come forward, and the trial is on!  During the trial, we discover that some of what we’ve seen is not so accurate, and some is worse.

In a flashback, we see that Kimberly didn’t really care about justice.  She cares about her future acting career.  *eyeroll* Well, color me shocked!  Brittany caves, and spills the beans on the stand that this was all made up.

Kimberly is pretty much the devil, as we quickly discover through her brief relationship with the reporter covering the events. 

So, the girls are kicked out of school, Randa’s parents are beyond displeased with her, Brittany’s boyfriend dumps her.  Randa comes to school to get her things, and just when you think she’s going to play to stereotype and bomb the place, she kills herself, after writing “We are all sinners” in Arabic on the blackboard of the room in which Mr. Anderson humiliated her.

Kimberly is sad at home.  Her dad pretty much hates her, and who can blame him?

But, wait!  The assholes at the audition at the beginning of the film decide to cast her in the French whore role.  And… Mrs. Anderson leaves Mr. Anderson.  Why?  The girls admitted they were lying…

Brittany pays Kimberly a little visit and finds out that Kimberly fixed the trial so that Brittany would crack.  Why?  Why did she do all of this?  Because once upon a time she was dumped by Brittany’s boyfriend.  SERIOUSLY?!  OH.MY.GOD.

Brittany calls her a psycho a couple of times, and thanks, sweetie, we figured that out ourselves. 

We end with Kimberly clicking through channels, tears streaming down her face once she realized what she really has done.  But it’s too late for sympathy, honey.  You are a sociopath.

            This movie takes itself way too seriously.  It feels like it is supposed to be a black comedy of sorts, but it tries too hard.  There are better movies out there about precocious teens who do horrible things to get ahead (Election comes to mind), but this was a bit much.  There was no message, either.  It’s like the film is just… there. 
            Evan Rachel Wood did a good job of keeping me guessing, though.  I had a feeling towards the end that this was all about a stupid boy, but was hoping she would prove me wrong.  Up until then, though, I was wondering “Why the Hell did she do this?”  The teacher was disgusting, but it is still up in the air as to whether he did anything beyond having perverted fantasies about the girls (aside from making Brittany simulate masturbation in front of the Anne Frank cast after she took over the role from Kimberly).  So, there were slight twists and turns, but not enough for it to pay off in the end.  Eh, take this flick or leave it.

And that’s a wrap!

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