Among the films that were screened today for members of the press, The Pretty One stands out from the rest as a touching Tribeca debut from director and writer Jenée LaMarque. Deservedly so, its been at the top of our must-see Tribeca list and today it earned its stripes. The Pretty One managed to exceed our expectations, leaving room for moments of comedic grace, mixed with a powerful message of self-awakening and loss.
The film centers on a familiar set up of twin sisters. Audrey [Zoe Kazan] has convinced everyone around her that she has a fabulous city life, while Laurel [Kazan] is the awkward introvert who spends her time at home doting on her father. A family tragedy forces Laurel to deal with her own insecurities for the first time, which ultimately leads to self-discovery and a spiritual and often comical reinvention.
What makes this story truly unique is the quick-witted script and brazen direction from Jenée LaMarque. LaMarque proves to be a rare gem in her class. An alumnus of AFI film school, The Pretty One is her first screenplay out of school, and her first feature length. If The Pretty One is any indication, we’re looking at a promising career.
The Inquisitr’sNiki Cruz sat down with director-writer JenéeLaMarque to talk about her first venture at the Tribeca Film Festival.
THE INQUISITR: Your short Spoonful is also about sisters. Did The Pretty One evolve from that?
LAMARQUE: It does share the sort of sister aspect and it’s sort of darkly comedic in a similar way, but it didn’t come from it. It’s in the same tonal world.
THE INQUISITR: Can you tell the readers about the writing process for The Pretty One?
LAMARQUE: It was a long writing process. It was my first screenplay that I ever wrote. I wrote the first draft when I was pregnant with my daughter, who’s now five, so it’s been quite a journey. In the process of that I went to AFI film school and studied screenwriting. I wrote most of the drafts when I was in film school and then continued revising and writing afterwards.
THE INQUISITR: What did the actors bring to your original script?
LAMARQUE: In terms of the actors and what they brought, one of the wonderful things about the movie was casting Zoe [Kazan]. She’s also an incredibly talented screenwriter. Not only is she a great actress, and really funny, but she also brings a lot to the collaboration as a storyteller and as a writer. I really valued that part of the collaborating process.
THE INQUISITR: Do you have any examples of scenes where that collaboration happened?
LAMARQUE: Jake [Johnson] and Zoe had a great chemistry and improvised off of one another. There’s some scenes where it’s very playful in the way that they’re communicating. I really wanted them to sort of make it their own and follow the structure of the scene, but along the way they were improvising and those were some of the moments I just find the most fun. I didn’t plan that, and it happened. It’s real.
THE INQUISITR: How was it filming the doubled image of Zoe Kazan?
LAMARQUE: It’s quite a process. It took three times as long to shoot the scenes where she was playing both characters. She was acting off of a body double, so I was trying to create a connection between the two of them. I think it’s a lot of math. You’re just calculating. You create one performance and then the next time you do the scene, you have to sort of work off of what you just done. It’s hard.
THE INQUISITR: There’s a conundrum between the two characters with their individual identities. What do you think this film says about women?
LAMARQUE: I think women deal with that duality of “Where do I fit on the spectrum of being a woman? Am I going to choose to wear makeup? Or am I not going to choose to wear makeup?” There’s many different choices, and I hope people honor both sides of themselves.
THE INQUSITR: What’s next for you?
LAMARQUE: I have a baby due in August. I’m also just working on a couple of screenplays. Just the beginnings right now because I’ve been focused on this movie for the last five years. It’s such an honor to be here.
THE PRETTY ONE IS CURRENTLY PLAYING AT THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL.