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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Pretty One DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks), Jake Johnson (TV’s “New Girl”), Ron Livingston (Office Space) and John Carroll Lynch (Crazy, Stupid, Love) star in the sweet and witty indie comedy The Pretty One. Official Selection at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and Winner of Best Feature and Best Director at the 2013 Savannah Film and Video Festival, The Pretty One is a tale of self-discovery and empowerment.  When an eccentric and insecure young woman (Kazan) is mistaken for her identical twin, after a traumatic car accident, she seizes the opportunity to leave behind her pathetic existence and assume her sister’s life. Through her masquerade as “the pretty one,” she finally learns to value her own identity.  
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Laurel is a shy, homebody, who still lives in the same small house in the same small town as she has for her whole life.  She is a painter who assists her father in making (legal) copies of famous works of art and also takes care of him.  Her twin sister, Audrey, has spread her wings and flown off to the big city, where she works in boutique real estate, owns both sides of a duplex, and has become very fashionable and beautiful.  One their birthday, Audrey returns home to celebrate and tell Laurel and their father that she wants to take Laurel back to the city with her to live.  Before they can do that, though, the girls get into a car accident and Audrey is killed.

Waking up in the hospital, Laurel doesn’t remember who she is at first, and is told that she (Laurel) died.  Her father thinks she is Audrey, since their hair cut is the same and they are identical twins.  On the day of the funeral, Laurel awakens and remembers who she is.  She tries to tell her father, but seeing his reaction, she doesn’t.  At the funeral, Laurel’s decision to become Audrey is made when no one speaks up and talks about how much they’ll miss her.

Laurel, as Audrey, returns to the city and tries to adjust to her surroundings.  The man in the apartment next door, Basel, had a somewhat acrimonious relationship with Audrey and is surprised when she returns and they become friends.  Laurel does her best to take on Audrey’s life, but when she falls in love and then loses her job (unrelated incidents), Laurel realizes that honesty is the best policy and tries to make everything right.

When I sat down to watch this film, I was not expecting a totally and completely depressing movie. It was a rollercoaster of emotion – from happy to holy crap that was so depressing, to awkwardly happy, to sad – and while I didn’t shed many tears, I couldn’t help but think about how depressing it was the whole time.  Zoe Kazan was wonderful as both Audrey and Laurel, and the emotion she showed once Audrey died was good.  Her awkwardness at many situations was endearing and made me love the Laurel character.  Jake Johnson was cute as Basel, the next door neighbor who doesn’t quite know what to do with this “new Audrey.”
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The Pretty One is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and is good.  At times, I noticed the picture a little grainy, but it didn’t detract much from the film.  Colors were both sharp and muted where necessary and skin tones were natural.  The Pretty One has a good picture and I can only imagine how much better it could be on Blu-ray instead of DVD.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 4 stars)
The English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio for The Pretty One is good.  Dialogue is heard clearly and the volume is even.  Because the script was so good, I really enjoyed just listening to this film.  It told a story through clear dialogue and held my attention based on that alone.  English SDH subtitles are available if needed.
Extras (1 out of 5 stars)
The lack of special features was not surprising for an indie film like this, but I had hoped for at least a behind the scenes interview with Zoe Kazan about what it was like playing essentially two different (but same) parts.
  • The Pretty One: Visual Effects – This is a very short look at how a few of the visual effects were made, including having both Audrey and Laurel on screen at the same time.  However, there is no narration, and really short, so it doesn’t really tell you much.
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
If not for the low special features score, this is a solid 3 ½ star film.  It’s not a tear jerker… and believe me, I know tear jerkers.  I’m the girl who cries at everything, it’s just a sad film that actually makes you think about having a twin and what it would be like to lose him or her.  You hear a lot about how twins know when something happens to the other, so this is a good look at that life and (I guess) one way in which to deal with it.  As depressing as The Pretty One was, I really enjoyed the story, thought the acting was really good, and know I’ll probably watch it again.  

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