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New Release Review - ALLURE

allure film review
A disturbed young woman enters into a controlling relationship with a troubled teenage girl.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Julia Sarah Stone, Denis O'Hare, Maxim Roy

allure film uk poster


As a confessed survivor of sexual abuse herself, actress Evan Rachel Wood clearly has a personal investment in her latest film, Allure, the filmmaking debut of acclaimed photographers Carlos and Jason Sanchez. Wood plays Laura, a troubled twentysomething who for all intents and purposes, abducts a teenage girl with whom she embarks on a sexual relationship. But if Wood was hoping her film might help to shine a serious light on abuse, she will no doubt be disappointed by the hackneyed and unconvincing approach the Sanchez brothers have taken to the subject.

We first see punky Laura hooking up with a 'date' for some anonymous sex at a motel. Making clear she has no interest in romance, Laura immediately begins grinding in a violent fashion on her male companion, who is scared off and promptly flees.

allure film

Given where Laura's arc leads us, introducing her in this manner is a lazy and offensive attempt to make the audience think she must be 'damaged', because heaven forbid any woman enjoy a form of sex beyond lying back and counting sheep. The implication that S&M is one step away from abusing a minor is incredibly regressive and objectionable.

During the day, Laura works as a cleaner for the firm run by her father, William (Denis O'Hare), who is fully aware of his daughter's nocturnal activities, and the film implies (mostly through cheaply ominous soundtrack cues) that he may be overly protective of Laura out of guilt.

allure film

On a cleaning job, Laura encounters 16-year-old Eva (Julia Sarah Stone), who lives a lonely life, forced to excel at her piano playing (is there any lazier shortcut for 'domineering parent'?) by her cold mother, Nancy (Maxim Roy), and eating her lunch alone in the school canteen. Eva seems the ideal candidate for emotional manipulation, and Laura wastes no time in flirting with the teen over a shared love of Nirvana and joint-smoking. When Eva reveals that her mother plans to move them both in with Nancy's latest boyfriend, Laura suggests she come live with her, and Eva gladly accepts.

It's at this point that Allure's narrative begins to stretch credulity to snapping point. A couple of scenes of Laura and Eva bonding over their interest in grunge aren't enough to convince us that the latter is willing to run away from home without leaving so much as a farewell note for her mother. When the police question Laura about Eva's disappearance, Laura reacts by locking the girl in her basement, which you would think would be a hint that maybe this relationship isn't entirely stable, yet Eva brushes it off all too easily.

allure film

Laura's actions are equally difficult to swallow, as she allows Eva to leave the house and roam the streets where her mother has posted missing posters. At one point Laura invites her brother over for drinks, and he doesn't seem all too perturbed at his sister shacking up with an underage girl. Laura and Eva even visit nightclubs together, the former seemingly having no fear of being rumbled by the police.

Wood and Stone commit themselves to their respective roles, and there are hints at the intriguing exploration of a relationship between two troubled souls that Allure might have been in more perceptive hands, but Wood's Laura is drawn far too broadly, and she's frankly so terrifying that it's simply impossible to believe Eva would fall for her in the first place, let alone give herself over completely to her disturbed older lover.

Allure is in UK cinemas May 18th.




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