Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Tribeca Review: ‘The Pretty One’ Is A Sweet Fairy Tale Of Identity Lost Then Found

The Playlist By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist April 21, 2013 at 2:32PM

There are movies about twins and there are movies about switching identities and there is “The Pretty One,” which uses both conceits for its tale of self and lack thereof. And to be fair, the premise of this quirky Tribeca comedic drama -- that’s ultimately much more affecting and genuinely melancholy than you’d expect -- is a little cutesy and cloying on the surface. And admittedly, the picture takes some time to find its bearings.
0
Zoe Kazan, Jake Johnson, The Pretty One

There are movies about twins and there are movies about switching identities and there is “The Pretty One,” which uses both conceits for its tale of self and lack thereof. And to be fair, the premise of this quirky Tribeca comedic drama -- that’s ultimately much more affecting and genuinely melancholy than you’d expect -- is a little cutesy and cloying on the surface. And admittedly, the picture takes some time to find its bearings.

Written and directed by first-time feature-length filmmaker Jenée LaMarque, actress Zoe Kazan (“Ruby Sparks,” "Meek's Cutoff") performs double duty in “The Pretty One” as two twins, Laurel and Audrey. Laurel, the sweet one, is painfully shy and awkward. Neglectful of her appearance, the 20-something has no sense of style and her hair borders on unkempt. On the flipside of the coin there’s Audrey, the fabulous, sexy and outgoing version of Audrey who’s successful, confident and doesn’t live at home taking care of her father (John Carroll Lynch) like Laurel does.

Zoe Kazan, The Pretty One

A birthday party for the twins brings the whole family together and Laurel is all too aware that the stylish, independent and dynamic Audrey is the life of the party and the center of attention (including the object of desire for the boy who has recently deflowered her). Audrey declares to her dad that she’s tired of watching Laurel act in place of their long-deceased mother and wants to take her away to go live with her. But before the plan can be fulfilled, tragedy strike in a car accident and Audrey is killed.

Traumatized and confused, Laurel -- who conveniently has just had a Audrey-like makeover before the family catastrophe -- is mistaken for Audrey by the family and the doctors and when she finally realizes she is alive, and not the twin sister that she adored and idolized, she in a rash decision seizes upon an opportunity to reinvent herself. Posing as Audrey, Laurel goes to her own funeral and then becomes fully committed to the role when she registers a lack of grief from her family and community.

Angered, she jumps on a plane to take on Audrey’s life as a real estate agent in what feels like a part of East L.A., where she begins to discover who her sister is (having an affair with a married man played by Ron Livingston) and finding herself drawn closer and closer to her tenant Basel (Jake Johnson), who Audrey evidently despised and tried to evict.

It’s up until this point that “The Pretty One,” while entertaining, feels a little too jejune and facile -- two polar opposite sisters each with a one-note costume-like persona and a silly car-wreck occurrence that inelegantly and conveniently throws the plot in motion. But as “The Pretty One” begins to plant the roots of its true story and drop the broad comedic conceits of its kind of silly premise, it begins to blossom into a genuinely sweet, charming and funny tale of identity lost and found. Not to mention possesses a sweet love story at its core as well as some authentically moving sequences about family, loved-ones and what they mean to us.

Zoe Kazan, for one, has a complicating balancing act to pull off and she’s actually performing three roles: Laurel, Audrey and who Laurel thinks Audrey is when she’s trying to play her in front of her confused friends. And the nuances of dipping back and forth between the three roles is rather amazing to watch, as is observing the character weigh her mourning and loss with the wondrous awakening of discovering a new life on her own.

Zoe Kazan, The Pretty One

Effortlessly appealing, Jake Johnson is absolutely playful and charming as Audrey’s rakish, but caring tenant Basel of whom she begins to fall in love with. And as Laurel/Audrey’s father, John Carroll Lynch gets the meatiest role he’s had since “Fargo,” and he’s absolutely terrific in it, doing some captivating and genuine emotional work in the film’s latter half.

Set in the once upon a time of nowhere (though it does feel like neighborhood-y L.A. meets the outskirts of suburban California), “The Pretty One” employs a storybook quality. Aesthetically, it's part fairy tale, part dollhouse fable with a gauzy, dreamy score by Julian Wass -- think Michael Andrews (who is also included in the soundtrack), Au Revoir Simone or something out of a Miranda July film (making some clever nods to movies about masquerading under new identities, the closing credits utilizes a cover of "It Might Be You,” the theme song to “Tootsie”). But it would be reductive and unfair to say LaMarque is aping her style from July. Her aspirations are less opaquely arty and she has a strong command of style, balancing well with genuine emotion.

While uneven in its opening and arguably the serious, sad, and moving second half of the film is slightly tonally at odds with its quirkier beginning, “The Pretty One” is still an engaging and sweet little first feature. Writer/director LaMarque certainly has a confident voice and she’s a lovely new discovery that we’ll likely see more of as she continues to grow and hone her craft. She pulls some amazing performances out of these actors and has a real sense for mood, tone and style, so it will be interesting to watch and see what she comes up with next. [B]

This article is related to: The Pretty One, Jenée LaMarque, Zoe Kazan, Jake Johnson, John Carroll Lynch, Ron Livingston, Tribeca Film Festival, Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates