Pretty Persuasion

This first feature by TV veteran Marcos Siega, with an ambitious script by another newcomer, Skander Halim, tries to be an audacious, irreverent satire about youth culture like Lord Love a Duck, but most of the laughs get strangled at birth by the uncertainty of Siega’s tone. A conniving 15-year-old (Evan Rachel Wood) concocts a sexual harassment charge against her drama teacher (Ron Livingston) and gets two of her female classmates to back her up. What initially seems like a social critique skewering everyone from lesbians to anti-Semites winds up scattered and confused, with strident performances and unconvincing characters. With James Woods, Jane Krakowski, and Selma Blair. 104 min. (JR)

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