Cinema Review: The Pretty One | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, July 16th, 2020  

The Pretty One

Studio: Dada Films
Directed by Jenée LaMarque

Feb 04, 2014 Web Exclusive
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In The Pretty One, Zoe Kazan plays both Laurel and Audrey, identical twins and polar opposites on the personality scale. Audrey is an outgoing, confident young woman with her own home, a boyfriend and a promising career in the big city. Laurel is an awkward shut-in, choosing to stay at home after the death of their mother to care for their painter father (John Carroll Lynch.) Laurel has always lived in her sister’s shadow; her only relationship has been with a teenage neighbor who saw her as a suitable-enough stand-in for her prettier, more extroverted twin.

When Audrey returns home to celebrate their joint birthday party, she takes it upon herself to fix her weird, loner sister’s situation. Laurel gets a makeover, a new haircut and outfit, so that she looks more like her self-assured sibling than ever. On their way home, their car is struck by a speeding truck; Laurel is thrown from the car, and Audrey’s body is burned beyond recognition. When Laurel awakes in the hospital, she finds her family has mistaken her for Audrey. Feeling that no one misses “Laurel” now that she’s dead, she chooses to maintain the charade, and assumes her sister’s charmed city life.

It’s this very dark twist which separates The Pretty One from the lesser screwball identity comedy it could have easily been. Laurel’s grappling with her feelings of self-worth are compelling, as she’s foisted into the life she’s always dreamed of while knowing, deep-down, people only treat her differently because they believe she’s someone she’s not. The drama unfolds when her deception begins to crumble, particularly as she breaks off her relationship with Audrey’s married boyfriend (Ron Livingston) and falls for her oddball neighbor, Basel (Jake Johnson.) The Pretty One wins with its charming, earnest performances—particularly by Kazan, who successfully makes each twin seem like a different character, even when sharing the screen with herself—and a script which takes a concept that sounds ludicrous on paper, and handles it in an unexpectedly sincere, clever manner.

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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