“Allure” is a Canadian movie directed and written by Carlos Sanchez and Jason Sanchez that could be classified as a psychological thriller in which no one ends up well. In fact, except for the character of Eva (Julia Sarah Stone) a 16-year-old talented pianist, somehow naïve as many people could be at that age, it is almost impossible to feel any empathy for the other characters.
The main character, Laura (Evan Rachel Wood), works in her father’s company but also does some housecleaning, and on top of that, engages in prostitution too. Indeed the first scene shows her in this facet of her many trades.
It is in her housecleaning job that Laura gets to meet Eva, the daughter of Nancy (Maxim Roy) an overwhelming mother who never seems satisfied with Eva’s performance. Eventually, the relation between Eva and her mother gets very tense, just moments before Laura comes to do her cleaning. Laura manages to comfort the distressed girl, but then what follows is hard to determine: is Laura merely taking advantage of a vulnerable young girl for her own sexual purposes, or is she genuinely concerned about the girl welfare? The movie does little to resolve this question. In fact, it obscures the situation but not with the purpose of giving the audience some unpredictable twist, but rather because of the many loose ends that escaped to the attention of the directors-writers. William (Denis O’Hare), Laura’s father, for instance, is contradictorily featured as a protective figure and as the perpetrator of a terrible act, with no clear implications for the characters involved, moreover, with no apparent emotional consequences, probably because of the less than convincing acting by Evan Rachel Wood.
Some scenes are entirely unjustified, such as the one showing the young girl sinking in a swimming pool. Of course, these images in the water project a sense of lightness and removal from distress and unhappiness. They worked wonderfully in Oscar-winner “The Shape of Water,” from where the directors seem to have taken the idea, in “Allure” instead it is a kind of gratuitous recourse with no relevance to the story. Regarding the story itself, there are also some implausible aspects: how after Eva’s disappearance the police were incompetent enough not to find her despite the girl being visible at supermarkets and other public places? Artistic license I suppose.
In sum, “Allure” is a film that fails at conveying its plot very clearly, the story is weak in dramatic terms. Some of its characters are insufficiently developed, and the story is not “alluring” enough to move the audience. Recommendable only to those who just want to spend some time watching a forgettable story.
The film contains few scenes of female nudity, lesbian sex, and some people may feel uncomfortable with portrayals of an adult in a sexual situation with an underage girl.
Feature image: Was Laura (Evan Rachel Wood) taking advantage of the underage Eva (Julia Sarah Stone)?
Length: 115 min.