SXSW: “PRETTY PROBLEMS”
By David Baldwin
Lindsay (Britt Rentschler) and Jack (Michael Tennant) are stuck in a rut. She dreams of working in fashion, but is stuck working the cash at someone else’s shop; he is a disbarred lawyer who is now a door-to-door salesman – and he has mandatory court ordered drug testing once a week. Things change when Lindsay meets obscenely rich housewife Cat Flax (J.J. Nolan). They become fast friends and soon Lindsay and Jack are invited on a weekend getaway with Cat and others in her orbit. Jack is apprehensive, but Lindsay is very interested.
As you might predict, things are not as they seem and shenanigans and debauchery ensue.
PRETTY PROBLEMS has a satirical edge that speaks to the major differences between the haves and have nots, and takes great pleasure in escalating how outrageous things become for this couple. There is some value in the backstories of the characters, as well as the histories they share with the supporting cast. They are all one-note, yet the cast portray them with vivid precision. Much like the Film itself, they are clearly enjoying hamming it up and playing into the tropes we all instinctively understand.
When it comes down to it though, PRETTY PROBLEMS is not very funny and is actually rather irritating (which of course, may be the point). Many of the jokes land with a thud, and the repetitive nature of certain lines and personality quirks is unneeded. Their importance to the plotline is pretty clear after the second mention. While there are a few twists I did not see coming (including one ripped wholesale from a recent mini-series), others you can see coming from a mile away. It is a truly mixed bag and I can only assume others will find much more to like about it than I did. I just wish the Film had likeable characters, because with them, PRETTY PROBLEMS could have been a lot more fun.
PRETTY PROBLEMS screens at SXSW ’22:
Monday, March 14 at 12:30pm EST – ZACH Theatre
Wednesday, March 16 at 4:30pm EST – Violet Crown Cinema 1
Wednesday, March 16 at 5:00pm EST – Violet Crown Cinema 3
Tuesday, March 15 at 10:00am EST – Available for 48 hours