Published Sep 01, 2005Pretty Persuasion is not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. It's a new teen movie that serves as a very thinly veiled attack on American values. The story centres on Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood), a manipulative high school student and wannabe actress who orchestrates the downfall of her vaguely creepy drama teacher (Ron Livingston) by rallying her friends into filing sexual harassment charges against him.
The film's satire of teenage sexuality and race relations is completely over-the-top, and its statements on the media-saturated, litigious society are hardly original. The humour is too broad and too obvious to be really effective. The characters are all caricatures and everyone comes across as kind of dumb.
The script is occasionally funny, but it's mostly stilted and awkward. The movie is structured in a non-linear series of flash- forwards and backs that seem a little lazy and unnecessary. The tone of the film is inconsistent, part broad comedy, part nasty, with a grab for sympathy right at the end that seems undeserved.
While the characters are unpleasant, the performances are pretty good Wood gives it her all in the lead role, Livingston writhes in discomfort with his inappropriate sexual attractions, and James Woods is gleefully disgusting in the role of Kimberly's father. (Capri)