Marcos Siega’s film is a wonderfully dark and comedic film that refuses to be easily categorised. Pretty Persuasion is a melting pot of black and gross-out comedy, thoughtful drama and satirical thriller. One of the strongest points of the film is that it doesn’t clearly answer any of the questions it raises. This is a study of the many hypocrisies that exist among individuals, schools and the media. Definitions of paedophilia, sexuality, racism and indeed, the truth, are questioned every step of the way, as we see three girls accuse a high school teacher of sexual harassment.
This film features some powerful performances. Evan Rachel Wood is perfectly cast as the wonderfully complex teenage Kimberley with multiple agendas and Adi Schnall and Elisabeth Harnois perfectly complement her in the capacity of best friends. There are many bit players here, with James Woods and Selma Blair among others expertly fleshing out what could have been mere supporting roles.
Pretty Persuasion really challenged me, and by the time it had finished I had no idea whatsoever of the writer’s position on the issues presented. There were many moments where not only did the characters turn around and contradict themselves, but the film itself did exactly the same thing. This made for a wonderfully confronting cinematic experience, and I found there was lots to discuss afterwards with others who had seen it. There are a few moments that simply didn’t seem to adhere to the logic of the film, which made things a hell of a lot more confusing again. But these were certainly few and far between.
This is a challenging and hilarious movie, one that I’m sure will provoke people to ask questions about their beliefs, prejudices and expectations.Rating: