Review: Pretty Persuasion

Poisonous high school bitch Evan Rachel Wood, her compliant best friend Elisabeth Harnois, and new Arabic student Adi Schnall accuse their teacher Ron Livingston of sexual harassment. The guy is probably not guilty (we don’t really see the incident), but certainly harbours impure thoughts, and gets turned on when his wife (a wasted Selma Blair) sports a new skirt he bought her which is alarmingly similar to the school uniform. Although thoroughly rotten and a master manipulator, Wood’s home-life is not especially ideal either, with a drug-snorting, anti-Semitic father (James Woods, enjoying himself) and her young stepmother Jaime King is the clueless butt of every one of Wood’s venomous gags (she accuses her of improper relations with the family dog. Actually, I laughed at that recurring gag, sick as it might have been). Jane Krakowski is a lesbian tabloid reporter sucked in by the manipulative Wood.

One-note, thoroughly unoriginal 2005 Marcos Siega black comedy apes “Heathers” (bitchy girls), “Election” (the student-teacher dynamic) and “American Beauty” (affluent but unhappy, sometimes venomous home life) but as well as giving us nothing new, it gives us no one to care about, either. Talented veteran Woods, saddled with an awful role, gives his most embarrassing performance since his overrated ham and cheese sandwich special for “Ghosts of Mississippi” (wherein he seemed to channel Foghorn Leghorn and somehow got an Oscar nomination for it). However, few among the cast come out of this one with any dignity.

Probably deliberately offensive, but I still didn’t care. There are moments and young Wood is fine in a not exactly 3D role, but I felt rather unclean after this one. The screenplay is by Skander Halim, who would’ve gotten kicked outta film school if he submitted this plagiaristic piece. You really don’t need to see this, it has nothing new to offer, it’s pretty unpersuasive.

Rating: C-


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