Music-video director Marcos Siega infuses this entertainingly dark social satire with stylish camerawork and clever editing. While visually rooted in the bubble gum teen comedy aesthetic, PRETTY PERSUASION boldly insists on taking brutal stabs at topics as sensitive as the war in Iraq, religion, and race. With a deceptively sweet appearance and a genius IQ, 15-year-old aspiring actress Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood) has the world in the palm of her perfectly manicured hand. When she takes new Arab student Randa (Adi Schnall) under her shallow wings, it is with the ulterior motives she has learned from her crazy, porn-watching, coke-snorting racist father (James Woods), his blank trophy wife (Jaime King), and perverted teachers like Mr. Anderson (Ron Livingston). Desperately wanting the publicity, Kimberly convinces her sidekicks Randa and Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) to make false allegations of sexual abuse against Mr. Anderson. While Anderson is may not be a good teacher or role model, he is not guilty of actual sexual assault. When Anderson buys his wife (Selma Blair) a skirt identical to the uniform worn by his students, his inappropriate feelings are revealed. The film suggests that society can expect no less than Kimberly's self-described precociousness from a generation that values good looks, fame, and money over honesty, goodness, and moral integrity. Wood shines as Kimberly, a villain who is truly the victim of the world around her. While Kimberly is hellbent on getting what she wants, it is hard to see how someone who has so internalized society's warped ideology can even have a sense of self.
|Number of Discs:||1|
3 stars out of 5 -- "There's fun to be had in Siega's acid, satirical play on high-school movies..."
Total Film - Kevin Harley (07/01/2006)
"[E]ntertaining. This is largely thanks to a tour de force performance from Evan Rachel Wood..."
Sight and Sound - Liese Spencer (07/01/2006)