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Pretty Persuasion (2005)

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A 15-year-old girl incites chaos among her friends and a media frenzy when she accuses her drama teacher of sexual harassment.

Director:

Marcos Siega

Writer:

Skander Halim
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Evan Rachel Wood ... Kimberly Joyce
David Wagner David Wagner ... Morgan (as David T. Wagner)
Brent Goldberg Brent Goldberg ... Rick
Adi Schnall ... Randa
Elisabeth Harnois ... Brittany
Stark Sands ... Troy
Jane Krakowski ... Emily Klein
Michael Hitchcock ... Headmaster Charles Meyer
Danny Comden ... Roger Nicholl
Jaime King ... Kathy Joyce
Josh Zuckerman ... Josh Horowitz
James Snyder ... Dave
Ron Livingston ... Percy Anderson
Cody McMains ... Kenny
Mike Erwin ... Barry
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Storyline

Manipulative high school sophomore Kimberly Joyce leads her friends Brittany Wells and Randa Azzouni in bringing charges of sexual assault against Percy Anderson, their English and drama teacher at an exclusive private school in Beverly Hills. Meanwhile, local reporter Emily Klein, originally assigned to do an insignificant piece on the school, hopes that the scandal will launch her into celebrity in the television news business, while Kimberly's bigoted father, Hank, is concerned primarily with the effect that his daughter's accusations may have on his business. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The devil wears a grey skirt and her name is Kimberly Joyce. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content and graphic dialogue involving teens, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 May 2006 (South Africa) See more »

Also Known As:

High School Confidential See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$58,570, 14 August 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$305,688, 30 October 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Evan Rachel Wood has said that she based Kimberly Joyce on a girl at her high school who "stabbed you in the back with a smile on [her] face..." See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Brittany Wells: [after both being cast in the play, "The Diary of Anne Frank"] Down with Nazis!
Kimberly Joyce: Yeah, boo nazis!
See more »

Connections

References Real World (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Stiffed
Written by Carvin Knowles
Performed by The SEX-O-RAMA Band
Published by Oglio Music
Administered by The Bicycle Music Company
Courtesy of The Oglio Entertainment Group, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Oh La La, I Dropped My Baguette"
18 February 2006 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

If you don't like films with unnecessary graphic language you may want to put "Pretty Persuasion" on your "films to avoid" list. There is so much exploitive language and perversions (mostly discussed rather than demonstrated) that I was regretting my purchase 20-25 minutes into the story, even though I was laughing fairly often-especially at Kimberly's (Evan Rachel Wood) comments about the relationship between her stepmother and her dog. I was amazed that Wood had agreed to do this thing and felt that in a few years she would regret having it on her resume.

But after about 30 minutes I was either hardened to the dialogue or had begun to understand that most of it was there for a legitimate purpose. And to enjoy "Pretty Persuasion" you have to be willing to accept a fair amount of what first seems needless exploitation. It used to be that teenagers went to the movies to see adults making love, now adults go to the movies to see teenagers making love, or at least speaking and behaving suggestively.

This black comedy and parental neglect social statement comes 50 years after Ed Wood featured it in "The Violent Years". Instead of a gang of privileged girls robbing gas stations, 15 year old Kimberly and her two classmates, best friend Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) and shy Muslim girl Randa (Adi Schnall), bring sexual harassment charges against one of their teachers. And "Pretty Persuasion" introduces a lot more dark wit into the equation, a function of Skander Halim's screenplay and Marcos Siega's direction.

The most intriguing thing about "Pretty Persuasion" is the way it embeds a complementary theme about Hollywood hypocrisy in the very structure of the film. Promiscuous teenage girls and lesbians are established titillation elements in exploitation films. And during viewing you are subtly persuaded that you are watching a fairly graphic exploitation film. It is only upon later reflection that you realize that you have actually seen nothing, everything was implied by the dialogue or staged partially off-camera. A prudish viewer is not offended so much by the images as by the implications that they have supplied themselves.

As a response to the growing sexual exploitation element in films, beginning in the 1930's Hollywood self-regulated itself through the Hays Code. Its provisions stated that: "pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationships are the accepted and common thing", "scenes of passion should not be introduced when not essential to the plot", and "seduction or rape should never be more than suggested". The tone of "Pretty Persuasion" is disapproving of the sexual relationships that are taking place, its scenes of passion are essential to the plot, and the seduction takes place off camera; making it at least technically in compliance with the old code.

The story is told from Kimberly's point of view and "Pretty Persuasion is a good example of the power of POV in fostering identification and sympathy for the character through whom we are witnessing the main events. By the end most viewers are perversely hoping that Kimberly will be successful. Few actors could elicit sympathy for this character but Wood manages to do so, you work to resist her but ultimately you lose.

You are further won over at the end when you realize that Kimberly's cynicism is largely justified, even if her actions are not. Were she able to choose, Kimberly would not elect to so cynical, it is simply a reflection of a world that is a major disappointment to her. So the character Wood brings to the screen is one that you go from hating, to sympathizing with, to admiring.

The theme of cynicism, as well as its cause and effect, has never been better dealt with than in this film. Using sex as her commodity and insightful analysis of other's weaknesses as her weapon, the disillusioned Kimberly is pretty much able to manipulate the world to suit her designs.

Wood is becoming the Tuesday Weld of her generation but is treating us to stuff in her mid- teens that Weld did not do until her mid-20's. Think of "Pretty Poison" and "I Walk the Line". Or even more appropriately Weld''s portrayal of Abigail in "The Crucible", because at its core "Pretty Persuasion" is a modern version of Arthur Miller's classic; an intriguing blend of "The Crucible", "To Die For" and "Heathers".

After watching Wood in "Pretty Persuasion", you realize that it is not something to be purged from her resume but something she should highlight.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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