Friday, August 25, 2006

The Day I Caught Pretty Persuasion

My day's been pretty ok, with all the stress of school (as usual) and weariness. I was lucky enough to have time to spare for a movie today. Here's a little review and write-up of Pretty Persuasion:

Pretty Persuasion is meaner than Mean Girls. It is a naughty, sexed-up social satire about America and the community at large. There are many hidden social commentaries and jibes at the American state-of-mind throughout the course of this black comedy.

The show revolves around Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood), who in a nutshell, is a dangerously intelligent girl who manipulates everyone around her to get what she wants. She and her best friends, dumb-blonde Brittany (Elizabeth Harnois) and fresh Arab-immigrant Randa (Adi Schnall), plot to file a harassment suit against their English and Drama teacher, Mr Percy Anderson (Ron Livingston).

There is also a touch of the lesbian element when Kimberly seduces hot-shot dyke reporter Emily Klein (Jane Krakowski - Ally Macbeal alum) for her shot at fame through the eyes of the media.

The movie cleverly portrays the sexual tension that exists between a hot-blooded male teacher and his female students as a mixture of confusion and fantasy, which adds comic relief to the otherwise serious undercurrent of the show.

It satirizes the media as a medium of sensationalism, and it takes a jibe at the public's fascination with scandals. Any news is good news as long as the people demand for it. Therein lies the social problem that the film is addressing – the proliferation of irresponsible media. It reflects the real world problem of the media spending more time on tabloid instead of reporting more important information.

Racism is also blatantly and uncomfortably talked about. However, this theme was dealt with in a rather deliberate manner, and in the end, it came across as forced. But on the bright side, it did bring to light the difficulties and stereotypes faced by ethnic minorities in America.

The film also dealt a lot with sex politics. Kimberly uses sex to her advantage and plays it both ways to wrap people round her fingers like a master puppeteer. Woods does an amazing job in portraying the young, eccentric, sexual yet innocent-looking (think Paris Hilton) Kimberly with much conviction.

Do keep an eye out on the director's witty take on the American obsession with health and looking good. Clue: It involves induced-vomitting (think bullimia) and abstinance from food that's "fattening". Incredible use of irony in that scene.

The title Pretty Persuasion in itself captures the true gist of the movie. It loosely alludes the Jane Austen novel, Persuasion. The protagonist cleverly "persuades" everybody in her way, whether directly or indirectly, to do her "bidding". She constantly makes use of her god-given assets to give sexual favours in order to get what she wants, which is why it's called "pretty" persuasion.

At the end of the movie, you will ask yourself: Are fame and hatred really worth the sacrifices of friendship and trust? The alternative choice would definitely seem to be better in retrospect.

After all that's said, Pretty Persuasion is definitely a movie worth watching.

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