A well-written script, believable characters, a relevant story, and impressive cinematography manifests into a dynamic movie-going experience. This is the type of film movie-goers walk away from the theater thinking, “Wow, I can’t wait to see that again” and are eager to discuss everything that made the film thought-provoking. A rarity it is to discover a film that has this creative balance, strong in all elements, and yet done on a minimal budget. The independent psychological thriller Pretty Perfect, written and directed by York Shackleton, is one of these gems.
Pretty Perfect is a beautifully written story weaving in and out of the internal reality of Conner (Christopher Beaton) and the reality existing in the world around him. As his life takes a turn for the worse, Conner’s dark, internal world leaves him with limited options. Sometimes however, in the darkest of moments something beautiful takes shape. For Conner, this beauty happens to be Eden (Sarah Sutherland). The world around him seems to be more vibrant when love is a possibility. Beaton’s performance is so strong that Conner isn’t a fictional character but the family member or friend we all know who struggles with their demons. Few can hold this kind of mental, physical, and emotional intensity in a character; but Beaton more than delivers. As does Sutherland, who breathes a soft, gentle, whimsical breath into Eden, providing a needed balance to Conner’s tumultuous battle with the world around him. Christopher McDonald and Charity Shea add value to Conner’s life as voices of reason, while Michael Bellisario’s pill-pushing Mark, is the bad-influence friend we all like to hate, and yet provides perfectly timed humor when the film needs a mental break.
As the writer and director of Pretty Perfect, York Shackleton has gifted us with a raw and honest view of mental illness, homelessness, love, depression, and the subjectivity of reality. Impressively, Shackleton delivers without pushing any particular agenda or belief. The beauty of his film is that everything is left up to interpretation, allowing the movie-goer to explore their own point of view. Pretty Perfect is that movie you don’t want to miss and will want to see more than once. This film is indie at its best!