There’s a lot of truth to the writing and dialogue in “Pretty Problems,” a very funny indie comedy from director Kestrin Pantera. The story of a couple who are befriended by affluent strangers and agree to spend a weekend with them in wine country is a surprisingly relatable fish-out-of-water experience. There’s just something so universal about the discomfort that develops when average people are around the ultra-rich, and this film is an amusing look at what happens when you so desperately try to fit in and be something you’re not.
Things aren’t going so well for Lindsay (Britt Rentschler) and Jack (Michael Tennant). Their relationship is in a rut, and the pair spend their lives simply going through the monotonous, day to day routine. Jack makes a living selling solar services door to door, while Lindsay works in a high-end clothing boutique. One day at work, an eccentric, wealthy customer Cat (J.J. Nolan) takes a liking to Lindsay, eventually inviting her to come to Napa Valley for a decadent weekend. Longing for a rich and famous lifestyle, Lindsay accepts, knowing very little about her hosts for the next few days.
What really makes the film work are the fully developed characters. They may at first appear shallow, but they are actually interesting (if not particularly likeable) people. It’s like a comedic social experiment to listen to the spoiled banter between the hosts, especially as the houseguests do their best to keep up appearances.
There’s a relatable awkwardness to Lindsay and Jack as they try to suppress their insecurities from being in a lower income bracket. There are a lot of conversations and scenes about nothing of great importance, and I was afraid this would be just another boring mumblecore project. Thankfully, the film never falls into that trap. There’s a script, and it’s engaging.
You can see the film was made on a very low budget, as the spotty production values stick out like a sore thumb. The sound is horrible, and the lighting not much better. The performances aren’t first rate either, but there’s so much to enjoy about “Pretty Problems” that it’s easy to overlook its flaws.