By Indiewire | Indiewire April 17, 2013 at 4:18PM
Inspired by the tone of "Lars and the Real Girl," first-time writer, director Jenée LaMarque examines the discovery of oneself in the wake of a tragedy in "The Pretty One." Starring Zoe Kazan in double roles as identical twin sisters, "The Pretty One" follows Laurel, jealous of her sister who embodies everything she wants to be. When the two sisters reuinite, Laurel suddenly gets the chance to reinvent herself in what LaMarque describes as an uplifting comedy-drama.
What it's about: It's a universal feel-good story about a wallflower who breaks out of her shell for the first time, and begins to come into her own.
About the filmmaker: "The Pretty One" is my first feature and I'm so excited that it's premiering at Tribeca. The screenplay for "The Pretty One" was on the 2011 Black List. I also wrote and directed a short film called "Spoonful" that played at last year's Sundance Film Festival. I am a mother, a wife, and a lover of films made by women.
What else do you want audiences to know about your film? Zoe Kazan (writer and star of "Ruby Sparks") plays identical twins in the movie, and her performance is remarkable. The twins are two very different people: Laurel is more of a wallflower, while Audrey is "the pretty one" and the life of the party. I think that Zoe nails the two characters in subtle and complex ways. It's so much fun to watch her embody the two sisters and experience the strong connection between them. Working with Zoe was really rewarding; she's not only a very smart and gifted actress, she's also a wonderful comedian and a brilliant writer. She's the real deal. I feel very honored to have worked with her.
Also, Jake Johnson (of Fox's "New Girl") is the male lead of the film. He's done some wonderful film work in the past but this is his first role as the romantic lead. He's just so damn funny, charismatic and easy to watch. Zoe and Jake have an awesome joyful chemistry that I think makes their love story exciting to watch unfold.
What was your biggest challenge in developing this project? Writing the screenplay was the hardest thing for me. It's was my first screenplay and I wrote it while I was in film school at AFI. I had a lot to learn about my voice, and I struggled with my discipline as a writer. I also had my first baby just before starting at AFI and balancing motherhood and grad school was really tough. This story is also tonally tricky so that was challenging too; it took dozens of drafts and a mountain of generous feedback to get the tone to be as consistent as I imagined and to truly balance the comedy and drama of the story.
What would you like Tribeca audiences to come away with after seeing your film? I think the movie is very hopeful and quite uplifting; Laurel chooses life after suffering a great loss. I hope that people are inspired by her story to take chances and be brave.
Did any specific films inspire you? Both "Lars and the Real Girl" and Jane Campion's "Sweetie" inspired me while writing and directing the film. Tonally, "Lars" is just a masterpiece; it's hilarious and authentic and extremely moving all at once. I probably cried six times while watching it for the first time, and the rest of the time I was smiling and laughing. That's the kind of experience I love having as a movie goer, that big emotional journey that is deep, moving, and entertaining. I aspire to create experiences like that for the people that watch my films.
As for "Sweetie," my cinematographer, Polly Morgan, and I are insanely in love with the style of the film. The unusual framing and use of color and texture are just really appealing to us aesthetically. Plus the movie is hilarious in a way that made me totally re-think comedy in films. The originality of that film is astounding and incredibly inspiring.
What do you have in the works? I'm just beginning two screenplays. One is a romantic comedy in the vein of "The Kids Are Alright" and the other is a sci-fi coming of age story. I also have another baby in the works and am due in August.
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.