MRR Review: "The Pretty One"

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Audrey has all of the qualities that her twin sister wishes she possessed: confidence, style, independence. Alternately, Laurel, sweet but painfully awkward, feels stuck in her life, still living at home, coddling their father and harboring an obsession with the boy next door. When the girls reunite for their birthday, tragedy strikes, and a fateful mix-up leaves Laurel faced with an opportunity to reinvent herself—and her life—as her beloved sibling.
3.5

Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: February 7, 2014
Directed by: Jenée LaMarque
Genre: Comedy / Drama

"The Pretty One" is a film about the main character finding herself in the most unexpected and awkward way possible. This flick is the director of this movie's first attempt at a full-length film. In "The Pretty One," Zoe Kazan does an excellent job playing the role of four characters: herself, her twin sister, herself as her twin sister and finally as a new and improved version of herself.

In the unique storyline of "The Pretty One," a horrible car crash changes everything and allows the main character to be the person she always hoped to be, the so-called "pretty one" that her sister is. The main character is named Laurel, and she is an awkward, homely girl who has chosen a life at home taking care of her widower father rather than of pursuing dreams of her own. On the other hand, her identical twin sister, Audrey, has chosen a life of luxury. She lives in the city, has a fancy real estate job, knows exactly who she is and enjoys being the center of attention.

"The Pretty One" begins at the twins' birthday party. Audrey steals the show, as usual, but offers to take Laurel into town for a makeover to make her feel better about herself and update her look. At the hair salon, Laurel makes the choice to get a haircut exactly like Audrey's, making them identical once again. On the way home, the sisters get into a tragic accident, which has only one survivor. The question is which sister made it? No one seems to know the answer, not even the person lying in the hospital bed.

Upon waking up, Laurel does not know who she is, and because she now looks so identical to her sister, her father is convinced it is Audrey who survived and not Laurel. It is not until the day of her funeral that Laurel realizes who she is. While she desperately tries to tell her father who she is, he does not listen. In turn, Laurel is forced to attend her own funeral instead of the funeral of her sister. Viewers watch the awful experience and see Laurel's face drop as she realizes that no one has anything nice to say about her and no one is likely to miss her presence. If moviegoers have not connected to the character by this point, this is the game changer.

From this point forward, Laurel decides to pick up her life and move on as Audrey. She leaves home and moves into Audrey's apartment and even takes over Audrey's career. Watchers feel the tension as Laurel tries to fool everyone into thinking she is Audrey, and they even feel sorry for her as she has to keep explaining that she just does not feel like herself. However, at the same time, many viewers also wonder why she does not just fess up regarding her true identity and end this pointless game.

To add to the plot twists and the confusion of the movie, Laurel finds love in the most unexpected place. Before her death, Audrey was dating someone, but she broke it off. Upon returning to her apartment, Laurel sees this man temporarily until her true love story unfolds. The man her sister loathed, the tenant next door, played by Jake Johnson, who is known as Nick Miller in New Girl, becomes the apple of Laurel's eye. They begin seeing each other, and as their relationship advances and becomes more meaningful, she must decide if she should continue leading him to believe that she is Audrey or fess up about being her twin sister. Although he believes that she is in fact Audrey, he notices a vast change in her mannerisms, persona and personality.

Viewers feel Laurel's struggle as they marvel at her transformation from a simple, lonely girl into a confident woman. Zoe Kazan's ability to convey the individual characteristics of each of her four characters is admirable, and the procession of events leaves watchers wondering how the story is going to unfold. By the end of the film, moviegoers are surprised by the transformation Laurel undertakes and how she emerges as the "pretty one" she always hoped to be.

While the movie begins on a tragic note and tells a tale of loss, sorrow and struggle, "The Pretty One" ends on a much happier note. This dynamic film allows viewers to feel a range of emotions that change as frequently as the main character changes her identity. Watching Zoe Kazan so perfectly capture the characters makes the viewing experience natural and uninterrupted.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5