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UKScreen Rating:

Pretty Persuasion – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Kimberly (Wood) is a highly intelligent fifteen year old private-schoolgirl who uses her intelligence to get her own way, rather than to get good exam grades.
On the surface, she’s all smiling and helpful, sweetness and light…deep down, she’s a cruel, heartless and manipulative teen, who’ll stop at nothing to get her own way, and to make sure everyone else gets what she thinks they deserve.
As the film begins, she befriends a lonely newgirl at school, showing the ropes to a Randa (Schnall), a naïve Palestinian girl, newly arrived in the US.
Together, they hang out with Kimberly’s best friend Brittany (Harnois), who’s now dating Kimberly’s ex, but she’s totally over that…
As the term progresses, all three girls fall out with the English and drama teacher, Mr Anderson (Livingston), and plot to get their revenge by making sexual abuse allegations against him.
Soon, the eyes of the nation are on the ensuing court case, as Mr Anderson fights for his job, the local TV reporter fights for her big break and the girls fight for their honour…well…Brittany and Randa are fighting for their honour, but Kimberly is fighting for much more…

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

We see plenty of films about preppy teenagers, and almost as many about the darker side of high school life, but this film dares to be blacker than most.
From side-swipes at political correctness and television news, to studies of dysfunctional families, oppressive prep-schools and general teenage bitchiness, this has some of the darkest humour I can recall in this kind of film.
This results in an 18 certificate, which sits rather uncomfortably with the material, which on the surface would be aimed at the teenaged girls, who won’t be allowed to see it.
Although it tries to play them at their own game, this film isn’t quite as dark as Heathers and takes itself more seriously than Election.
But it’s funny and sharp, at times painfully so, and its structure reveals the facts in a way that gives the film added originality.
After her breakthrough in Thirteen and another successful performance in Down In The Valley, Wood’s latest role as one of the most calculated and manipulative anti-heroines in modern movie history confirms her as an actress to keep a close eye on.
I’m sure Kimberly would agree that thus far, Evan Rachel Wood has got all the success she deserves.

opens nationwide 23rd June 2006

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