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  • If you don't like films with unnecessary graphic language you may want to put "Pretty Persuasion" on your "films to avoid" list. There is so much exploitive language and perversions (mostly discussed rather than demonstrated) that I was regretting my purchase 20-25 minutes into the story, even though I was laughing fairly often-especially at Kimberly's (Evan Rachel Wood) comments about the relationship between her stepmother and her dog. I was amazed that Wood had agreed to do this thing and felt that in a few years she would regret having it on her resume.

    But after about 30 minutes I was either hardened to the dialogue or had begun to understand that most of it was there for a legitimate purpose. And to enjoy "Pretty Persuasion" you have to be willing to accept a fair amount of what first seems needless exploitation. It used to be that teenagers went to the movies to see adults making love, now adults go to the movies to see teenagers making love, or at least speaking and behaving suggestively.

    This black comedy and parental neglect social statement comes 50 years after Ed Wood featured it in "The Violent Years". Instead of a gang of privileged girls robbing gas stations, 15 year old Kimberly and her two classmates, best friend Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) and shy Muslim girl Randa (Adi Schnall), bring sexual harassment charges against one of their teachers. And "Pretty Persuasion" introduces a lot more dark wit into the equation, a function of Skander Halim's screenplay and Marcos Siega's direction.

    The most intriguing thing about "Pretty Persuasion" is the way it embeds a complementary theme about Hollywood hypocrisy in the very structure of the film. Promiscuous teenage girls and lesbians are established titillation elements in exploitation films. And during viewing you are subtly persuaded that you are watching a fairly graphic exploitation film. It is only upon later reflection that you realize that you have actually seen nothing, everything was implied by the dialogue or staged partially off-camera. A prudish viewer is not offended so much by the images as by the implications that they have supplied themselves.

    As a response to the growing sexual exploitation element in films, beginning in the 1930's Hollywood self-regulated itself through the Hays Code. Its provisions stated that: "pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationships are the accepted and common thing", "scenes of passion should not be introduced when not essential to the plot", and "seduction or rape should never be more than suggested". The tone of "Pretty Persuasion" is disapproving of the sexual relationships that are taking place, its scenes of passion are essential to the plot, and the seduction takes place off camera; making it at least technically in compliance with the old code.

    The story is told from Kimberly's point of view and "Pretty Persuasion is a good example of the power of POV in fostering identification and sympathy for the character through whom we are witnessing the main events. By the end most viewers are perversely hoping that Kimberly will be successful. Few actors could elicit sympathy for this character but Wood manages to do so, you work to resist her but ultimately you lose.

    You are further won over at the end when you realize that Kimberly's cynicism is largely justified, even if her actions are not. Were she able to choose, Kimberly would not elect to so cynical, it is simply a reflection of a world that is a major disappointment to her. So the character Wood brings to the screen is one that you go from hating, to sympathizing with, to admiring.

    The theme of cynicism, as well as its cause and effect, has never been better dealt with than in this film. Using sex as her commodity and insightful analysis of other's weaknesses as her weapon, the disillusioned Kimberly is pretty much able to manipulate the world to suit her designs.

    Wood is becoming the Tuesday Weld of her generation but is treating us to stuff in her mid- teens that Weld did not do until her mid-20's. Think of "Pretty Poison" and "I Walk the Line". Or even more appropriately Weld''s portrayal of Abigail in "The Crucible", because at its core "Pretty Persuasion" is a modern version of Arthur Miller's classic; an intriguing blend of "The Crucible", "To Die For" and "Heathers".

    After watching Wood in "Pretty Persuasion", you realize that it is not something to be purged from her resume but something she should highlight.

    Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
  • I kinda liked this film for almost all the wrong reasons. It's politically incorrect and doesn't make any apologies for doing so, but yet demonstrates a notion that we can be bigots, and yet not be consciously aware of it. After all, it's what has already been internalized, but it becomes exposed quite naturally through our actions and dialogue.

    Evan Rachel Wood is the star of the movie. As Kimberly Joyce, she's the high school frat girl like Alicia Silverstone's Cher in Clueless, but in terms of character, she's on the other side of the spectrum. Way on the other side. She's looking for fame, and would do absolutely anything to obtain her 15 minutes worth. She's a temptress, a seductress, highly intelligent, and so manipulative, she can stab you in the back while smiling in front of you, with you none the wiser and probably still worshipping the ground she treads on.

    Which brings us back to the title, and makes you wonder if beautiful people can get away with almost anything. I guess it's probably almost human nature to be enchanted by the pretties, and anyone would most likely be lapping up at anything they say. It doesn't take much for a beautiful bitch to realize the power she wields on men who are drunk in her aura, and then to exploit this weakness of people around her.

    There are two more key reasons why I enjoyed the movie, besides being enchanted myself by the Kimberly character. The first is the dialogue in the movie - there's so much wit, and it's fast and laced with plenty of double entrées and satire, delivered in a deadpan manner by Rachel Wood no less, you would likely need to re-watch it again to grasp them all. The second is having Kimberly chaperon a newbie in school, an Arab girl called Randa (Adi Schnall), raising some eyebrows as the religious girl gets exposed to pop culture and blatant insensitive racists remarks, and inevitably too becomes a pawn in the whole scheme of things, as does Kimberly's best friend Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) discover that it's not always fine and dandy being the hunter, as there is always something or someone else higher above in the food chain.

    The host of supporting characters raised the movie to another notch. James Woods shines as the foul mouthed father of Kimberly, who sprouts words of wisdom peppered with colourful vulgar, racist remarks. Jamie King completes the household as the long suffering trophy wife/stepmother in the Joyce household, constantly bearing the brunt of insults hurled at her by Kimberly. At school, we have Ron Livingston as Percy Anderson, as the meek and mild mannered school teacher who indulges in role-playing games with the wife at home (Selma Blair), and inadvertently becomes the target and public enemy #1 of Kimberly and friends. And Jane Krakowski in a bimbotic role, stars as a news reporter who finds it increasingly difficult to stay objective when covering possibly the juiciest scandal to hit town.

    There's a sub theme running that touches on "saving face", which is an issue to the successful in ensuring that their reputation does not get tarnished in the face of scandals, and is a trait that most Asians are familiar with. It's important that face is not ruined easily by careless actions, as face is something that is most difficult to build in an environment of shame. Having lost face and losing the faith to rebuild it, can lead people to an untimely sad demise.

    So if you're up for some scheming betrayal, and plenty of slimy tactics, if you want to observe how seemingly good intentions are actually poisoned barbs that kill slowly, then I hope I've already persuaded you enough to watch this flick.
  • In Beverly Hills, the fifteen years old evil manipulative aspirant actress student Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood) convinces her friends Randa (Adi Schnall) and Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) to falsely accuse their Literature and Arts teacher of sexual harassment. She manipulates also the lesbian journalist Emily Klein (Jane Krakowski), who is covering the case, to support their cause in the trial, which leads the group to a tragic and surprising conclusion.

    This dark "Pretty Persuasion" is a Machiavellian and mean tale of manipulation. With another impressive performance of the gifted Evan Rachel Wood and the stunning James Wood, this dramatic dark comedy may shock with the crude sex scenes, the deranged family of Kimberly or the outrageous perjuries of the girls; or make the viewer laugh with the permanent black humor or the scenes of the racist Hank Joyce; or feel sorry for the poor teacher Percy Anderson. But certainly this movie shows an important message, how people may be easily manipulated by an intelligent person. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Garotas Malvadas" ("Bad Girls")
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Quit possibly the 2000s version of Heathers or Election and to a lesser extent the teenage version of To Die For with Nicole Kidman. Pretty Persuasion is a cynical and darkly twisted teenage comedy, with a razor sharp plot! This film is nothing short of brilliant, Evan Rachel Wood (who proved audiences she was talented alongside Holly Hunter in Thirteen) was a perfect choice for the role of Kimberly Joyce a trash talking, acid tongued, manipulative and devious teenager who is determined to win the role of Anne Frank in a school play.

    Hoping she will achieve fame through her role as Anne, but after Kimberly's naive, best friend, Brittany Wells gets the role, Kimberly incites chaos in her Beverly Hills community by accusing her English teacher of sexual harassment. Kimberly also asks her best friends (Brittany) and Randa, a shy and harmless Arab girl to accuse him of sexual make her unbelievable story, believable. But little do they know Kimberly has her own agenda to pretty much everything.

    Pretty Persuasion is a tough and cynical genre film with a twist, taking the female high-school satire further and deeper than such predecessors as Heathers, Mean Girls and Election. Skander Halim's sharp satire employs the most sexually explicit dialog to be heard in an American teen movie, indie or Hollywood, over the past decade. When a father addresses his daughter as a "dirty little whore who gets it up her ass", you know you are witnessing a feature that many viewers will perceive as shocking, excessive, and totally jaw dropping. The whole movie may be "too much" for the more conservative public.

    Starting of as a black comedy, Kimberly is a girl beyond her years, similar to Tuesday Weld in Pretty Poison, that boy Sammy in the novel "What Makes Sammy Run?" and Tracy Flick in Election. In looks and conduct, Kimberly may be a younger version (like I said above) of the equally amoral and immoral TV weather reporter Nicole Kidman played in Gus Van Sant's underestimated satire, To Die For. You'll either be offended by this film, or love it death and me, well, I love it to death, although teen mean girl films are getting predictable these days, Pretty Persuasion however changes that!! Especially with the perfect performances to top it off, Evan Rachel Wood is an amazing acctress, and well deserves an Oscar someday.

    Overall, Pretty Persuasion is a perfect black comedy teen film, and certainly not for the light hearted, you've been warned, and it's not your average teen comedy. But, pure perfection.

  • I've liked every effort I've seen by young actress Evan Rachel Wood ("13" being a stellar example, and "Missing" being another). This is no exception. "Pretty Persuasion" is akin to "Election" (Reese Witherspoon) for the first half, with a dark, witty sense of humor about high school aged people playing mental "chess" with each other, their teachers, and parents. Slowly the story morphs darker, into something like "To Die For" (Nicole Kidman), with a media-made, fame-driven main character willing to do whatever it takes to reach a twisted idea of recognition and advancement. THIS would be enough for the film to be interesting and well done within its own right, but then it goes further. Further. This film is billed as a comedy. If it is, it is not for long… a) if you watch the entire thing, and b) you pay attention. I was expecting a good film. I received even more.
  • I saw a preview screening of this the other day and felt like I needed to get the word out on this movie pronto. It is SO wrong and twisted, I loved it. I won't give anything away, but Evan Rachel Wood is amazing -- actually, everyone was amazing. I'm so looking forward to this coming out this summer, cause I will definitely see it again.

    I'm sure some people might compare it to "Mean Girls" but that's totally wrong. I would compare it more to "Heathers" although it's such a darker comedy that goes places you won't expect, that I really haven't seen anything like it before. This isn't about high school or really teen life, but more a social commentary about racism, sex, war, family, and fame -- or the lack of.

    I'm looking forward to hearing what others think about the film. Anyone know if there's a trailer online?
  • I personally was not disappointed by the film. I am continually impressed by Evan Rachel Wood's skills as an actress. Her darkness was so real, the evil inside of her was almost moving. Hilariously dark and witty, James Woods and Evan Rachel Wood kept me laughing and in shock. Pretty Persuasion left me sitting in the theater saying "Oh my god, they did not just say that. Wait, yes they did just go there". The ending was fitting somehow. As shocking and comical as Pretty Persuasion was, it did deliver a powerful message. People are flawed. Not everything in this world is wholesome and good. When it came to manipulation and intelligence, Kimberly Joyce had everything in spades, but when it comes to deception sometimes getting what you want is the easy part, realizing what that says about you and what it all means is the difficult part. Pretty Persuasion is one of the better dark films i've seen come around since Ghost World. Although shocking and sexual, there is no real nudity or graphic sex scenes in the whole film. Everything is left to the imagination, just like Kimberly wanted. Creul Intentions meets Mean Girls on steroids. I loved every shocking minute of it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had not heard a word about this movie prior to seeing it and had no idea what to expect. Quite frankly, I was rather worried about what I had let myself in for but, as it transpired, all my doubts were misplaced. I found the film intensely funny, gripping and well-acted.

    The main character of Kimberly is puzzling. Some of her remarks are bizarre (e. g. about her friend's masturbation). As the movie progresses you learn the sheer scale of her manipulation. I have to admit I found it deliciously wicked and so perfectly orchestrated that I couldn't help but feel a little admiration for this "devil wearing a grey skirt". It's so funny to watch as she copies dialogue from porn movies and uses the same lines with different lovers. I also felt sympathy for her anal sex encounter. There was something feministic here, where the female is blamed for the desire of the male, as in the story of Adam and Eve. My complete lack of knowledge of the film also ensured that I wasn't sure whether the character of Mr. Anderson had perpetrated the crime of which he was accused and the structure of the movie added to this effect. After all, there was that scene with his wife. Nor does Kimberely's manipulation make her happy. At the end of the film, she is lonely and has deigned to the level of some awful soap, which she appeared uncomfortable with and demeaned by in the film's first scene. But for Kimberly, nothing can get in the road to success.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    My wife didn't like it at all. I found some enjoyment, but it is a very strange movie. Especially the role James Woods plays. But I get ahead of myself.

    Evan Rachel Wood is Kimberly Joyce, pretty, slim, and seemingly very nice. But as she takes a new student under her wings, and calmly escorts her around, the things Kimberly says just don't seem right. Then, when she is home at dinner, her interaction with her stepmom Kathy is just incredulous. Something about the stepmom having sex with the family dog. James Woods is her dad, and the things he says, as well as certain things he fails to say in response to Kimberly, are equally incredulous.

    Jane Krakowski is good as local reporter Emily Klein, assigned to do a story on the school, but soon finding herself in a much bigger story. Ron Livingston (of office space fame) is teacher and drama coach Percy Anderson, a seemingly nice guy who also acts a bit suspicious.

    There isn't much else to say without giving away major spoilers, but suffice to say that the movie is not for everyone. It is a very strange take on certain aspects of high school life.

    MAJOR SPOILERS. Three girls collude to accuse Mr Anderson of sexual advances. He isn't guilty we eventually find out, but it was all a scheme that Kimberly used to take revenge on one of the other girls for having stolen away her boyfriend. In the end, she figured the publicity would further her acting ambitions, and even though the new girl, one of the three accusers, shot and killed herself, Kimberly just figured that was an acceptable price to pay for her scheme.

    Dark, very dark!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A "clever" little indie black comedy, about a precocious fifteen year old high schooler/aspiring actress and her watered down, contrived, pseudo-sadistic, clownish exploits. If you've lived a day in your life, are able to eat solids yet, and your IQ is at least sub par, and most've seen at least a handful of films that strive for that same "shocking" attitude, with little more to offer than a cheap attempt at irony, and ridiculously glossy, under-ripe adolescent sexual schlock, then you will definitely find Pretty Persuasion right along with every pretentious, audience-insulting, over-indulgent piece of garbage there is out there. You'll find the script to be just as moronically cartoonish as the acting, however, if you haven't seen very many films and have a very watered-down sense of humor, then you'll probably like it. The film offers a bland attempt at oversexualized "camp" from moment to moment, which should be appreciated as an interesting attempt, while blindly becoming formulaic satire in a cloak of edgy "indie" tragedy. The film just yells EDGY INDIE BLACK COMEDY, and I would think that we'd be done with this by now.

    James Woods is over the top, as usual, and his performance is not interesting, in the least. Woods and Wood are both confusingly irritating, spouting off "humorous" and cheaply written pieces of dialogue. Lines such as, "Do you F**k dogs?" are funny I suppose, and might lure a smile, but overall, it's pretty amateur in its delivery and concept. The film is just a bit full of itself, or unconscious of itself, either reminds me of the goofy, teenaged, local TV projects I would try with my other 15 year old peers.

    It makes sense that most people compare this to Election or Heathers, for a few unimportant and easily relatable reasons, however, it should be more appropriately compared to a TV movie. Don't get me wrong, I love oversexualized vulgarity, and cheap, black comedies, that actually take you somewhere stimulating, but this film is just cheap, and it's sad that it requires so little effort to gain a recommendation these days. It's a film that a lot children will love, because they don't know any better.
  • This move represents the type of movie genre I hate - no, loath. But it's actually pretty good. The story is not as straightforward as one would expect. This movie definitely has a twist and is not your average soap opera.

    My girl friend was watching it on her PC and it caught my attention - something that rarely happens in the middle of a movie. The story arc makes you want to know more, and the end does not disappoint. It does not unfold slowly and it leaves a lot of room for speculation. You still won't expect this. The role of Kimberly makes sure you don't get bored while waiting for the conclusion.

    If I actually find a high school movie entertaining, you should probably watch it. It doesn't even have any sci-fi gadgets or serious gore. ;-) A good story is all it takes, but lately this is a rare thing, unfortunately. Thumbs up for this movie getting it right!
  • Pretty Persuasion Reviewed by Sam Osborn

    Rating: 2 out of 4

    Let's get one thing straight, I was not in any way offended by Pretty Persuasion. Many critics have disparaged the film for its aggressive subject matter, but I simply didn't find the film to be the least bit entertaining. I rarely take offense at the subject matter of a film, as long as it is necessary to the proper telling of the film's story. With Pretty Persuasion, the so-called offensive material is quite imperative for the telling of the story. That's not to say however, that I enjoyed the story. Instead of striving for a slick, intelligent and provocative film, Pretty Persuasion lapses into cruelty and absurdly misaimed satire that rarely evokes more than the sound of crickets from the audience. It seems to want to reside in a Napoleon Dynamite-esquire world, where normality was a disease cured centuries ago. But don't hold your breath Napoleon fans, these aren't the quasi-lovable characters of middle America from the Sundance cult phenomenon, but precocious, snooty Beverly Hill caricatures that would rattle the nerves of even the vainest of Hollywood celebs. There are, of course, the film's delightful little moments of hilarious shock factor (take, for example, Kimberly's dialogue with her stepmother) and some strangely impressive performances, but the screenplay hits its balls so far into left field that most of us are left shaking our heads in disappointment.

    The film follows the devious scheming of Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood) through her early years of high school. Teaming up with her newfound Arab friend Randa Azzouni (Adi Schnall), and boyfriend stealing bombshell, Brittany Wells (Elisabeth Harnois), the three set out to come forward with accusations of sexual assault, incriminating their easily distracted History teacher, Mr. Anderson (Ron Livingston), whose interest in young ladies has even reached into his marriage to Grace Anderson (Selma Blaire). Picking up the story is the stunning, lesbian reporter Emily Klein (Jane Krakowsi). Back at home, Kimberly's father, played outrageously by James Woods, worries only over the reputation of his wholesale electronics business. Divorced and re-married with a girlfriend on the side, Woods' character wanders about the house in robe and boxers, spouting ignorant and prejudiced comments and insisting he isn't being a racist, but simply telling the truth. Woods' performance is nearly worth recommending the film for. He steals scenes like they were candy from a baby, demanding the audience's concentration and truly earning the attention comically. This is Woods at his best, however ignorant his dialogue may be.

    Evan Rachel Wood has rapidly become my favorite young female actor in Hollywood. Coming off impressive work in Samuel Bayer's Green Day music video "When September Ends" with Jamie Bell, Wood continues with her streak of phenomenal independent work in Pretty Persuasion. Despite the film's creative crutch, Wood takes her virtuoso bitchy role by storm. It's a daring, provocative, and hilarious performance by one of the industry's most intriguing actresses.

    But despite all my raving of the film's performances, I still find myself bored with Pretty Persuasion. There's great potential here to make an intelligent and provocative film that could possibly pose as a comic version of American Beauty. Instead, director Marcos Siega takes the low road for scatological and low-brow goofiness, sacrificing all that could be satisfyingly funny. We're left alienated by Siega's quasi-normal world and not allowed to re-connect. The jokes range from sexist to racist, attempting to offend any and all the least bit interested in women's rights. Instead of achieving satire, the film finds itself wallowing in gross immaturity.
  • OK, that was a lame joke, but it's exactly what I thought of when I finished watching Pretty Persuasion. After touring Hollywood Video going around in circles a million times, a cute guy that I just had to flirt with recommended Pretty Persuasion and said that it was a huge recommendation. Well, I had to look cute and like I was interested, so I rented it, I watched it this morning just expecting a good movie, but I have to say that this was a good recommendation, because it was a great movie. I just love dark comedies, even if they push the edge, this was just a meaner version of Mean Girls, in my opinion it's a mixed version of Mean Girls and Cruel Intentions to sum it up. Pretty Persuasion is a great film with good acting, a twisted story, and has some of the funniest dark scenes I have seen in a while, James Woods was the show stealer for me, but the whole cast did a fantastic job pulling the story together well.

    Kimberly Joyce is a student at high class Beverly Hills High School, she has two friends, pretty and popular Britney, and a new Arab student, Randa. Kimberly and Britney want to be actresses and just live the high life. Kimberly's family life isn't all glam though with her gold digging step mother and neglectful, racist, alcoholic father who is all about image. But the girls take a giant leap in accusing their English teacher of sexual harassment to get famous. Or at least that's the motive that Kimberly has led the girls to believe.

    Pretty Persuasion is a great dark comedy, I don't think it's for everyone though, it is flawed in some ways. Some of the messages are sent the wrong way and the direction was just alright, but I thought it ended brilliantly and for some sick reason I really liked Kimberly's sadistic side, her way of stabbing people with a smile on her face, she was wicked, but so cool in the way she did everything. The best performance besides Wood was James Woods, he was just dead on with his character and as much of a jerk as his character was, he was in some sick way still likable. I don't know why, I knew I was supposed to hate a lot of these characters, but I found them to be so human a the bored rich people who have nothing better to do than complain. I would recommend Pretty Persuasion, if you like dark comedies, this is right up your alley.

  • "Pretty Persuasion" crosses "Mean Girls" with an updated slant on Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour," but its social and political satire feels in too many scenes like an extended "Saturday Night Live" sketch.

    The film is heavy-handedly based on the sociological findings that instead of doing Columbine-like violence, teen age girls lash out with spiteful aggression in social situations. The film makes the extended case that teen girls are more like Machiavelli than "Carrie" or as in "Heathers." The male debut writer and director can't resist adding in dollops of male fantasy about girls and women. Even under the guise of examining how ambiguous male-driven media messages from Britney Spears to Lolita to TV shows, etc. create confusing role models of appropriate behavior for girls in their real lives, males are seen as clueless pawns of younger females.

    One effective touch is to replay scenes in flashbacks from different angles to show how miscommunications and misunderstandings can occur and be manipulated.

    Individual scenes and caricatures are very funny, particularly James Wood doing a comic take on his "Ghosts of Mississippi" role. Adi Schnall is touching as a naive Muslim student thrown in with the sharks of the American Dream. Jane Krakowski enjoys making fun of the ambitious bombshell roles she usually plays. Elisabeth Harnois is the most affecting as the best friend, but she is so natural she almost seems to be in a different movie. Selma Blair has a brief funny scene as a wife mocking her husband's fantasies, though a notable episode of TV's "Angel" did the exact same scene with more dark bite, as well as the general theme taken up more effectively by Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and Ryan Murphy in "Popular."

    But most of the rest of the broad, scatter shot attacks on ethnic, racial and sexual PC clichés end up just wooden and go on repetitively for too long. Individual lines like "I can sympathize with the immigrant experience because I'm Canadian." are amusing, as are ongoing jokes about putting on the story of Anne Frank as the high school play, but pile up in dialog that even the commanding Evan Rachel Wood has trouble making seem real.

    The closing montage ties all the disparate themes together in a sudden shift of tone, but it was a long time getting there, in moving from the obvious to the touching to twists in using high school as the usual metaphor for the world at large.

    The cinematography is all appropriate bright pink. The set design is full of visual jokes, more than the can be picked up quickly.

    For a film set in the world of teenagers, there are few songs on the sound track, perhaps due to budget limitations, but more music might have helped the pacing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Maybe people on the fringe of the film industry are really like this, or maybe this is just some pervert(s) fantasy of what he/she/they want to believe teenage girls are like. Either way, it is a disgusting piece of garbage with no redeeming qualities. If James Woods has/had any talent at all, it is not evident in this poor excuse for a movie, which relies on foul language and obnoxious behavior... and nothing more! It is a pitiful excuse for entertainment. Evan Rachel Wood has in previous movies shown some talent, but not here.

    The writers, director, producer(s) and the studio would be chastised severely by the film community, but for this piece of trash apparently they found their fantasies fulfilled by this dirty little movie, which dwells on the most disgusting sides of human existence.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 this one does not even deserve to be mentioned. It is pitiful.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Woaw, this is the most intelligent, thoughtful, genuinely artistic and fully achieved movie I've seen in a long time.

    It tells a lot about how people "get" movies that much lesser achievements in similar discursive film-making, like "American beauty", get wide recognition though genuine articles like "Pretty persuasion" seem to meet much hostility.

    My main thanks go to Wes Anderson, whose fresh, clever and stylish rehash of European style by the likes of Jeunet or Jodorowsky, seems to have opened new doors in modern cinema, as I've recently recognized this major influence he's had on new directors (like Marcos Siega here) in another recent movie, "A Home at the End of the World". This one was also very good, but relied more on conventions at the story level.

    Here the screenplay is clever, clever work, both at the narrative and meta-narrative levels, which asks all the right questions (which is probably why it seems to upset people - who wants to be asked pertinent questions nowadays?), and uses a terrific, very mature cinematic vocabulary, which any genuine Cinema lover will recognize as such. Come on guys, if you can't see that this is GREAT cinema, you've missed the train entirely.

    **SPOILERS AHEAD** In case you didn't think this is intelligent work at the moral/social level... ask yourself: what could have prevented Randa's suicide? Think of all the missed opportunities, miscommunication, from her parents, the other girls, the teacher's attitude... think about the motivations.. ever asked yourself the same questions about the crime in "Heavenly creatures"? If not, well... do!

    Thanks to the crew for such a carefully crafted piece of work, and the moral integrity.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie about a manipulative teen female is meant to be ironic and nasty in the vein of such classics as "Heathers" or at least of such worthy, if lesser, follow-ups as "Mean Girls." An utter failure.

    To achieve true offense you must be either really crude and stupid or really bold and revolutionary. To achieve truly wicked wit you must be really smart -- and of course witty. "Pretty Persuasion" almost achieves the former qualities, but not quite. It's pretty stupid, and rather crude; it certainly isn't revolutionary (see below). The second goal -- truly wicked wit -- requires logic and intelligence in the script. And that is far, far away from what the makers of "Pretty Persuasion" have shown themselves capable of in this truly lamentable effort.

    The fault, indeed, is not in the acting, which is at best accomplished and confident and at worst able and serviceable. It is in the writing, directing, and editing, which are all astonishingly inept.

    Evan Rachel Wood as Kimberly Joyce is the alpha female, who does it all, wrecking lives left and right, for a boy. Hey, that's not hip; that's not cool! It's hard to see where this badly written story is meant to be going. It leads up to a jury trial in which Kimberly persuades two of her classmates (including Randa, a "Middle Eastern," i.e., Arab, girl in hijab, who is totally passive and commits suicide -- thus fulfilling several false stereotypes) to go along with her in accusing an English teacher of sexual harassment -- not a good idea for the alpha female, given that when she isn't listening to her obscene racist father (James Woods, who should be ashamed), is manipulating people by granting them oral and anal favors, or watching porn. Kinberly is in no position to present herself as sexually innocent, and it is not ironic but simply illogical for her to bring forth such a case.

    The private Beverly Hills high school is mere wallpaper. There's no portrait of school life here, and no sense of real personalities or social groupings or up to date lifestyles. Thus one of the most essential elements of this kind of comedy -- a highlighting of current teenage social patterns -- is missing.

    How very unsophisticated and un-clever it was of Skander Halim, the screenwriter, to think this poorly organized series of mindlessly cruel and tasteless scenes, whose sole aim -- at which it fails -- is to cause outrage, would turn out to be somehow sophisticated and clever. Halim has almost no sense of the sophisticated schoolgirl sensibility or of current language.

    "Pretty Persuasion" is bad, bad, bad. And given the promising trailers full of seemingly outrageous moments, it was a huge disappointment for anyone lured into theaters to see it this fall.

    After this disaster, and with nothing else but a trail of minor TV behind him, it'll be very surprising if the director, Marcos Siega, ever does anything on film that is beyond mediocre. The high point of his career thus far may have been his role as a post production assistant for "Sleepless in Seattle." Good luck, Mr. Siega. Start out by finding another writer.
  • charliemenzies7 September 2005
    Pretty Persuasions is another one of those fake slice of life movies. It tries desperately to be perceived as "real" by the critics and the intelligentsia and thus fails completely to convey any real emotion or situation.

    The dialogue is absurdly bad and forced and the film is just one more hyped, tired attempt by a bad music video director at gaining the applause of his friends and the Sundance committee.

    Did that movie make it to Sundance? I wouldn't be surprised as it has all the characteristics of the really bad films that go there for their fair share of empty hype.

    As for Evan Rachel Wood, she should stay away from these types of films in the future. Her acting is becoming worse and worse as she tries to bring life to bad clichés.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watched the movie yesterday and found it really captivating. I liked it a lot, but I just wanted to point to a little mistake: Just before Randa commits suicide she writes something on the blackboard, which is translated to something like "we are all sinners", whereas there is a little mistake in the last word she writes, so that what she actually writes is not "we're all sinners" but "we're all canaries" :) I am really sorry to write this because I don't want to spoil what I found to be a really good movie, especially that I really liked the movie a lot, and that I think that Evan Rachel Wood is more than amazing. Greetings from Brazil, Mazen.
  • Truly, film executives should decide to spend a lot less time on hyping bad films and more on finding good projects.

    Here is another film that will make you hate the "indie" genre (yes it is a genre now, characterized mainly by how bad it is and how much it tries and fails to be edgy).

    Evan Rachel Wood is slowly killing her promising career by piling up really bad films.

    Word to the wise, actors can only really shine when they are in good projects so next time you may want to actually read the script instead of listening to your hipster agent, Evan.
  • Absolutely dreadful.

    The movie is terribly written, with a pathetic attempt at social commentary at the end, and a plot that doesn't make sense.

    Any attempt to shock the viewer fails, as the viewer loses interest in the movie's universe. Words become meaningless and the plot doesn't add it up.

    The movie is alternately predictable and shocking in its failure to fashion a coherent plot.

    The acting is solid. However, not even the actors can overcome a failed plot. I wanted so badly to find interest in the movie, but I left dumbfounded.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *** Warning - contains (very) minor spoiler ***

    First off, let me congratulate the acting staff of this movie - James Woods delivers his usual brilliant performance, Evan Rachel Wood shows even more promise and skill than she did in Thirteen, and the rest of the cast (Ron Livingston, Elisabeth Harnois, Adi Schnall (with too few lines), Selma Blair) did a fine job at bringing this to life.

    The story is... well, it's almost beside the point. The social commentary carries the stage here - racism, hypocrisy, family communication (or the lack thereof), communication in general (ditto), liberal idiocy, conservative idiocy1 - they all get tweaked here, without anything sinking into mean-spiritedness. The Jewish boy who points out that the stereotype does not *entirely* apply to his father (shortly after performing a very stereotypical act of racial hatred himself, which gets overlooked by authorities), the Arab girl who is remarkably innocent (read: ignorant) and made vulnerable thereby, the promiscuous teen girl who uses her partners, rather than the usual "used by" view - all will make you laugh, and all are very un-PC.

    The story, which provides a framework for this commentary and satire, holds up well enough. and the twists are going to surprise many - but as solid as it is, it pulls a weak third place to the acting and the satire. If Oscar Wilde were alive today, would he be doing stuff like this? Perhaps - but he'd have to have guts.

    Well worth watching, even if finding it is a challenge.
  • Argemaluco26 March 2008
    On a lot of occasions,scandalizing is the last desperate resource of a filmmaker who tries to provoke interest with a provocative subject.But,Pretty Persuasion is one of the little few cases which do not scandalize in a forced way.This is an excellent movie which brings a very important message about the modern culture and,at the same time,it's enormously entertaining,funny and,of course,scandalizing.Although it has offensive moments,I think Pretty Persuasion must be analyzed as a very black comedy which laughs of many stereotypes of the modern North American culture.As any other great satire,it's impossible to deny that the movie hides a lot of truths of the modern life in the brilliant screenplay.The things the main character thinks are thought by a lot of people,but they try to hide them for shame.Pretty Persuasion works on many levels and it has grey characters;nobody is completely innocent or completely guilty.By my point of view,they are all victims of the circumstances,of their education and of their instincts.Or simply,they are all manipulating,liar and badly intentioned people.The only fail I found on this movie is that it's a little bit pretentious on some moments.The performances are extraordinary.Evan Rachel Wood shows her excellent performance in Thirteen was not a chance and that she's one of the most talented young actresses nowadays.I have to admit that I found her performance in this movie better than Natalie Portman in Closer and Reese Witherspoon in Election.Ron Livingston brings a perfect performance.The great James Woods shows an enormous enthusiasm with his character.In spite of some minor fails,Pretty Persuasion is a brilliant movie which is not afraid in scandalizing with the porpoise of bringing valid and very important messages.I liked this movie pretty much.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    when I stumbled across this movie on demand I wasn't really sure what to expect, but thankfully it was £2.50 well spent. Normally Dark comedies aren't really my cup of tea but this movie blew me away, would have watched it all over again if it wasn't 3 in the morning! Every performance was outstanding, i loved James Wood as the dad I thought he was hilarious in spite of his racist remarks and once again Evan Rachel Woods is on top form, conducting the world to exact her revenge on 'best friend' Brittany who stole her boyfriend and despite all this I still found myself rooting for her in the end. The best quote to sum up this movie is 'It's like the world is this orchestra and I'm the conductor.' it just shows the manipulation Kimberley Joyce can get away with! I would watch this movie again in a heartbeat, but thats because i'm not easily offended by a movie and can enjoy it for what it is!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    (MINOR SPOILERS) Okay, full disclosure: the writer, Skander Halim, is a friend of mine. But even though his particular brand of humo(u)r was immediately recognizable to me (and I'd seen his short film Family Dinner, which was the calling card for Persuasion), some of the funniest moments turned out to be James Woods' ad-libbed non sequiturs. Truthfully, all the humor is of a piece, a caustic willingness to eviscerate any last remaining pieties about the innocence of American girlhood.

    Evan Rachel Wood turns in a small miracle of a performance as Kimberly, a rich girl who's more than precocious; she's got the fully formed subjectivity, sexual appetite, and ironic detachment of a grown woman. The piercing subtext of this character and her fate is that as a smart, mature young woman in the cruel, petty culture of American high school, she cannot survive intact. A bit like -- seriously, don't laugh -- the character of Sarah Jane in Sirk's Imitation of Life, Kimberly's clear-eyed picture of the way things work is a knowledge she can't fully capitalize upon. Instead, it effectively drives her insane.

    I know this sounds like pretty heady stuff for a "teen comedy," and Pretty Persuasion is aiming for balls-out genre subversion of the sort a film like Election only began to approach. The downside is that the film's ambition outstrips its ability, and the dark turns it finally takes feel less organic, more argumentative, than they probably should. Nevertheless, this film's got guts, and its first two- thirds are, for the most part, unrelentingly funny.

    Marcos Siega, moving over from TV and music videos, acquits himself quite well in his first feature outing. There's a flat, unfussy treatment of space and mise-en- scene throughout the film, along with fluid camera-work that slowly and subtly announces to the viewer that we're watching something teen-oriented but with higher aspirations. (Although the feeling is completely different, only Ghost World comes to mind as a fitting analogy.) Siega and Halim do not hit their every mark, and there are a few clunkers even in the comedy section (despite Adi Schnall's solid performance, the character of Randa is not hewn with the requisite care), but more often than not, Pretty Persuasion is tight, tough, and willing to smack you around a little bit. Admit you like it.
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