Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Pretty One: Movie Review

An uneven beginning gives way to a cute and sweet story of love and finding yourself.

“The Pretty One” is the story of identical twins Laurel and Audrey (Zoe Kazan), except Laurel is told she should look more like Audrey. Following the death of their mother, Audrey moved to the city and Laurel retreated farther into herself. This leaves one twin more rejuvenated looking hot and modern while the other is just a mess. Audrey wants Laurel to change, Laurel doesn’t know what she wants.   2013

Directed by: Jenée LaMarque

Screenplay by: Jenée LaMarque

Starring: Zoe Kazan, Jake M. Johnson

The beginning of the film can seem very over-the-top establishing the boorish description of the family and Laurel’s wallflower and emotionally-stunted nature. I definitely saw it as a turn-off, except it is also meant to give the film a more surreal feel to take out it of the thriller or tragic drama one might otherwise assume it to be and fully place it in the comedy genre.

With Audrey back home for a visit, the girls are in a car accident leaving one dead and one scarred. The hospital and family think Audrey’s dead, Laurel isn’t sure which one she is. But after hearing her family insult her, Laurel is Laurel who is now Audrey.

It is funny in a weird, ha-ha kind of way, but not in a laugh-out-loud kind of way. At least not until Jake Johnson enters the picture. His slow increase in popularity over the last few years in a variety of comedies has served him well. Underneath his scruff demeanor, he has a beautiful heart, making the film actually funny and sweeter than it should be.

With Laurel pretending she’s Audrey in the big city, the film becomes an examination of identity. What does it mean to be yourself? Is it possible to find yourself while pretending your somebody else? What makes Laurel Audrey and what identifies her as Laurel?

There is also a romance element to the film, perhaps my favourite part, not the least of which because of Jake Johnson’s hilariously tender portrayal of Basel. It is ridiculously obvious how this romance is going to play out, but it was still cleverly done. Laurel was in love with an 18-year-old boy Hunter (Sterling Beaumon); Audrey was in love with a 40-year-old man Charles (Ron Livingston); and the Audrey version of Laurel is falling for the 30-something man-child Basel.

Audiences will need to overcome the strange and uneven tone in the beginning, but eventually “The Pretty One” settles into a cute and sweet little story of love and finding yourself.
Best Lesser-known of 2014