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The title says it all: Allure. So good it’s already the name of a perfume and a US beauty magazine. Now comes the movie, a gloomy unconvincing drama about a woman who manipulates a teenage girl into a sexual relationship. Evan Rachel Wood does her level best, giving a committed intense performance as the predator, matched by Julia Sarah Stone as her girlfriend/victim; together they outclass a film that perhaps doesn’t deserve their commitment.
Wood is Laura, who’s around 30 and cleans houses for her dad’s company. When she’s feeling low, she picks up random men for rough sex – one walks out after she throttles him. You can spot that she’s emotionally damaged by her chipped nail varnish. (While a week-old manicure is the norm for women in real-life, it’s a dead giveaway for a self-destructive streak in the movies.) At work, Laura takes a shine to the 16-year-old daughter of a client, overachieving and under-loved Eva (Stone), a talented pianist with a controlling mother.
What Canadian writer-directors Carlos and Jason Sanchez get creepily right is the insidious seduction stage as Laura worms her way in. She flatters Eva, treating her like a adult, getting her drunk and finally nudging her to run away. The film comes alive in these moments in between Wood and Stone. In a genuinely shocking scene after Laura has persuaded Eva to crash at her house, she locks her in the basement.
It only gets unsatisfying from here. The suggestion is that Laura is herself a survivor of childhood abuse, which is never fully spelled out but is used as a shortcut to some fairly hokey showdowns. Eva, meanwhile, goes from average teenager to Stockholm syndrome victim in a matter of days. Despite its stellar performances, this feels like a psychological drama without much basis in actual human psychology.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Allure review – gloomy psycho-drama is only skin deep | Film