Projections - Movie Reviews

Pretty Persuasion

Pretty Persuasion
Evan Rachel Wood, Ron Livingston, Elisabeth Harnois,
Adi Schnall, Jane Krakowski and James Woods

Rated: No rating
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 9, 2005 Released by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

This social satire from Marcos Siega comes across as awfully strident and offensive, though he tries to make it palatable for the "Cruel Intentions" set with his background in music videos.

An overabundance of unpleasantries is something that even the mature Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen) can't overcome a script that is absurdly crass. Wood's Kimberly seems like a 15-year-old out of "Clueless" at the outset when she auditions for some trashy soap opera.

Kimberly attends a posh private school in Beverly Hills and becomes more calculating after saying something very inappropriate about Jews on Diversity Day. Her English and Drama teacher (Ron Livingston) is pressured to relieve her of her starring part in the school's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank." Kimberly, with the help of best friend Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) and passive Arab immigrant Randa (Adi Schnall), claim that Livingston's Perry sexually harassed them.

Much of the cutely exploitative picture is presented in flashback that shows more effort in the editing process. Jane Krakowski is an ambitious lesbian television reporter covering the trial whom Kimberly touches in a way to advance her aspirations as an actress.

Wood is game on displaying the protagonist's way to gain and maintain control of every situation, not just from the words that come out of her mouth. Kimberly enjoys watching porn from her obnoxiously slovenly bigot of a father, hammed by a crudely spewing James Woods. He demeans every one, especially Jews, and his appliance business is affected by Kimberly's racial remarks. But she says, "dad you'll now have more free time."

Nothing is off-limits in Pretty Persuasion when it concerns race, religion, and sex, and it's hard not to feel rather filthy after expressing all of the avid candor and misogyny. The attempt at humor oozes from character naivety of topics like Operation Iraqi Freedom, immigrants, and legal expertise. So, finally when Siega uses Wood to elicit emotion against intolerance and misunderstanding there's no chance to be persuaded as easily as a favor ends doing to Brittany on the witness stand.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Pretty Persuasion       C-       C-

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