Pretty Persuasion review

Marcos Siega's girl-school satire begins in bad taste, in a good way. It's sort of an In The Company Of Schoolgirls, led by a bitching (in all senses) comic turn from rising starlet Evan Rachel Wood. She plays Kimberly, a devil in a school skirt who talks her "girlfriend!" Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) and new buddy, a Middle East emigrant named Randa (Adi Schnall), into hitting an English teacher with charges of sexual harrassment. So far so cruel, sister.

There's fun to be had in Siega's acid, satirical play on high-school movies ("Stay away from Kenny the arms dealer!" Kimberly warns Randa), and James Woods is monstrous as Kimberly's coke-headed old man. But Siega stretches his film with a closing burst of contrived twists that its skittish base struggles to carry. The resulting muddle of moods leaves a sour aftertaste, even given the sweet spots.

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