Debuting writer-director Jenée LaMarque describes her indie film
as a fairy-tale, and taken in that light, it’s worth a look. LaMarque’s best
decision was casting the gifted Zoe Kazan in the leading role(s), as a gawky twin
named Laurel who has always lived in the shadow of her popular sister Audrey.
Through a deus ex machina plot twist
and subsequent misunderstanding, Laurel is mistaken for her sibling and decides
to see what it’s like living in her skin.
The premise may be far-fetched, but it’s carried out with
sincerity. If you’re willing to go along—and Kazan makes it possible to do so—the
results are amusing, ironic, and thoughtful. John Carroll Lynch is touching and
believable as the girls’ emotionally stilted father, and Jake Johnson couldn’t
be more appealing as a tenant in Audrey’s house who never got to first base
with her—but now finds the “new” Audrey strangely attracted to him.
Modest in its ambitions, The
Pretty One is accomplished in its execution, right down to eye-defying moments
with both twins on camera, done without CGI. (Kudos to cinematographer Polly
Morgan.) At a time when so many Hollywood studio releases make me curse the
time I’ve wasted on them, it’s refreshing to encounter a small-scale movie that
offers a gleam of satisfaction.