Sunday, February 09, 2014

Gathr Preview Series: The Pretty One

Was it a bit weird to come to the Regent on Monday for the screening? Well, not really; that's actually when it was held at the start. I will say, though, that it was weird to get into the auditorium and find people... Well, not actually in my seat, but in the ones directly in front of it. I suppose I could have just sat in the usual place, but just plopping down right next to a group of strangers in an auditorium that holds 500+ people would be kind of weird.

The screening was still in the main room, as it turned out. Indeed, the guy at the ticket booth wasn't sure what my prattling on like there was another was about. Next week's has a note about it being in the "Regent Underground", so the folks who make it (I'll be at the sci-fi festival) may be in for something new.

The Pretty One

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 3 February 2014 in the Regent Theatre (Gathr Previews Presents, digital)

It sometimes feels like Jenée LaMarque could have done more with The Pretty One; the idea of one identical twin taking the place of the other is certainly not new, but it's the sort of plot device that can play differently with each new iteration depending on the actor and character(s). Zoe Kazan certainly give this picture a solid place to start, and while she could have been given opportunities to do more, there's value in how she and the filmmakers never actually make a wrong step.

As the film starts, Laurel and Audrey (Kazan) have been living separately since high school: Confident Audrey sells storybook houses in the city, while mousy Laurel still lives with their widowed father. On their birthday, Audrey treats Laurel to a makeover, which is why there's some confusion at the hospital after the girls are involved in a head-on collision, leading to an initially-amnesiac Laurel taking her sister's place.

There is, of course, a job, a boyfriend (Room Livingston), a best friend (Frankie Shaw), and a cute neighbor (Jake Johnson) to consider, but a grieving sister with a head injury explains away a lot, and while it can sometimes feel like hand-waving, it's often kind of a relief that LaMarque doesn't bog things down with much focus on the mechanics of Laurel avoiding discovery or their being some sort of exterior reason why she should. You can have those and still make a movie about a girl lacking in self-confidence to the point where she feels like she's more useful filling someone else's place and using that new perspective to figure out what her own role should be, but they do have the tendency to overwhelm. This movie takes the occasional short cut, but it seldom loses sight of its goal.

Full review at EFC

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