I had forgotten that I’d already seen this years ago, which usually doesn’t portend a positive review. In this case, we have the exception. Underrated genius I’ll call it.
This elite high school satire / black comedy is in the nasty genre of films like Heathers, Cruel Intentions, To Die For, and American Psycho. With a deliberate, formalist approach to the cinematography and sound, it begins like a dark fairy tale.
With a disturbed Evan Rachel Wood the main character I couldn’t possibly look away. Ms. Wood is so stunningly gorgeous and talented that I’ve simply loved every role she’s ever inhabited. This time she plays a sociopath who takes a new Middle Eastern girl under her wing and shows her the lay of the elite landscape.
Wood’s family has money, but not the prestige of many of the other high-powered teens at the academy. She’s in the middle of the ambitious pack, and she dreams of being an actress, a celebrity, in order to sprint out ahead of the competition.
She’s the alpha bitch of her emerging clique. The dialogue is so sharp tongued and devastating that it shoots out like sporadic gunfire. This is an impressive script, chock full of devious, ulterior motives.
Pretty Persuasion reminds me how few films actually say much, if anything at all, particularly high school dramas. We could use a lot more of that and a lot less of the latter.