With ambition that outstrips her experience, first-time director Jenée LaMarque’s fairytale “The Pretty One” mingles implausible drama and awkward comedy to less-than-middling result. Playing identical twins, the always-captivating Zoe Kazan brings some charm to the troubling premise: mouseburger twin Laurel takes on the life of her more exuberant sister, Audrey, after her abrupt death. Quirk and hipsterism-nearing-twee ensues, and how. (The brightly colored production design is toothsome, if largely overwhelming.) Kazan’s gift for winning oddity carries the day, even as LaMarque fails to find a persuasive overall tone.
With Katherine Macanufo, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston, Frankie Shaw, and the indelible John Carroll Lynch as the masterpiece-copying father of the twins, who creates the movie’s single great, thrilling moment, a hug that is like no other hug. 90m. (Ray Pride)
“The Pretty One” opens Friday, February 21 at River East.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.