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Film / Pretty Persuasion

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The Devil wears a gray skirt, my friend, and her name is Kimberly Joyce.

"It's like the world is this orchestra and I'm the conductor."
Kimberly Joyce, pretty much summing up what kind of character she is.

Pretty Persuasion is a 2005 American Black Comedy directed by Marcos Siega, starring Evan Rachel Wood, James Woods, Ron Livingstone, Jane Krakowski, Elisabeth Harnois, Adi Schnall, and Selma Blair.

Kimberly Joyce (Wood) is a precocious 15-year-old who dreams of becoming an actress. Her best friend is Brittany (Harnois), and the two take new student Randa (Schnall) under their wing. They go to the exclusive Roxbury Academy in Beverly Hills, and it's at the same time that Emily (Krakowski), a local news reporter, is filming a fluff piece on the school, that the trio accuse drama teacher Percy Anderson (Livingstone) of sexual harassment. Hilarity Ensues.

The film was noted on its release for proudly taking refuge in both vulgarity and audacity at a level many other films might not have dared to go. Very few of the characters are likeable, and the comedic tone is pitch-black. Think of it as a caustic mix of Heathers and To Die For with Nicole Kidman. Reviews are mixed, and mileages certainly vary as to whether the vulgarity and audacity are pulled off successfully, but most agree that Wood is a standout in the role of Kimberly.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Kimberly's parents are both neglectful.
  • Adults Are Useless
  • Alpha Bitch: Kimberly fits the bill, except it's suggested she's not all that popular at school, at least in the superficial sense of the word "popular".
  • Asshole Victim: Although Anderson never molested Kimberly, what he did to Brittany was pretty close to sexual harassment, and it is still possible that he actually laid his hands on Randa.
    • Kimberly in the end. After everything she's done, being told off and unfriended by Brittany and left all alone with no one at all and being cast as a bit part of a worthless soap opera is true justice.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Kimberly - and how.
  • Black Comedy
  • Book Ends: The film opens and closes with Kimberly's dance.
  • Catholic Schoolgirls Rule: Discussed between two male teachers who actually work at a catholic girls school. Also, while the teacher who is later accused of statutory rape by the Fille Fatale protagonist is in fact completely innocent of that crime, he does ask his adult girlfriend to dress up as a student.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Played with, though mainly Kimberly is just being manipulative.
  • The Ditz: Brittany and Kathy.
  • Double Standard: Emilys behavior in having sex with a 15 year old girl who in her mind had recently been a victim of sexual abuse by an adult would likely be depicted less casually if she were male. Though downplayed a bit by the movie's overall Black-and-Grey Morality where few (if any) characters are meant to be entirely sympathetic.
  • Driven to Suicide: Randa, when it comes out that the trio lied.
  • Evil Plan: The entire plot, as pulled by Kimberly.
  • False Rape Accusation: The whole plot. Kimberly wants to be famous, so she convinces two of her friends to jointly accuse one of their teachers of sexual improprieties to create a media spectacle on the campus. Zig Zagging in that the teacher is in fact a lech who might be guilty of at least some of the charges made against him.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Many, but Kimberly's "Money-grubbing Jew shyster" is pretty epic. Subverted of course when we find out it was deliberate.
  • Fille Fatale: Deconstructed, as Kimberly gets to feel the toll of being this.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Brittany's hair is blonde when she's "good", but when she starts doing "evil" things, she has dyed it brown.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    Hank: "Racism is ignorance and I don't ever want to catch you being ignorant. Now, this is not to say you have license to bring R. Kelly home for dinner..."
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: When the English teacher Mr. Anderson is being accused of sexually molesting his students, Randa testifies that he told her "I'm gonna touch your boobs". He bursts out that he would have used "breasts".
  • Jerkass: MANY examples, but Hank and Mr. Anderson are the best examples.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Emily.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Kimberly again.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending abandons the Black Comedy in favour of some last-minute Character Development.
  • Motor Mouth: Brittany becomes one when being cross examined.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The film ends with Kimberly on the verge of breakdown as she sees that all she's done in order to get her acting job has alienated her from everyone she loves, and that despite it all, her role is a bit part on a worthless show that most people (including herself) would skip over.
  • Parental Abandonment: Half the reason Kimberly is the way she is is due to her mother's absence, meaning she spends a lot of time with her father
  • Precision C Strike: Emily's labelling of Kimberly with Country Matters is spot on and vicious.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The film, but in-universe Kimberly's "I'm very glad I was born White" speech probably takes the cake.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What actually happened between Mr.Anderson and Randa behind the closed blinds?
  • Troubled Child: Kimberly identifies with a guy who shot up his school. Safe to say she has issues.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Kimberly most definitely, though she's not alone.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Subverted in that due to a bird's-eye-view we see the end result, but not the actual act.