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, editor of Movie City News and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Check a few signs on Twitter (@chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram (instagram.com/raypride). Twitter: @RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)