PRETTY PERSUASION (18)
D: Marcos Siega
Roadside Attractions (Todd Dagres, Carl Levin, Marcos Siega & Matthew Weaver)
US 2005 (released 2006)
W: Skander Halim
DP: Ramsey Nickell
Ed: Nicholas Erasmnus
Mus: Gilad Benamram
Evan Rachel Wood (Kimberly Joyce), Ron Livingston (Percy Anderson), James Woods (Hank Joyce), Jane Krakowski (Emily Klein), Elisabeth Harnois (Brittany), Adi Schnall (Randa), Selma Blair (Grace Anderson)
Pretty Persuasion is a independent black comedy full of fork-tongued dialogue and some utterly repellent characters, but still manages to be completely engrossing.
Precocious sophomore tramp student Kimberly Joyce, with ambitions of being an actress, sees a chance to have her name in lights when she encourages two of her school friends to make false allegations about a drama teacher's sexual harassment towards them.
The angle has been done before in 1998's Wild Things, but it's even more scathing here, with Evan Rachel Wood delivering a brilliantly grotesque performance as the prefect bitch and James Woods equally excellent as her racist, chauvinistic father.
As an allegory on the manipulative nature of the media and celebrity, it feels twistedly mean-spirited, and there's not one character who isn't morally abhorrent, but the acting performances shine throughout.