From the opening moments, Allure introduces viewers to its uncompromising and often uncomfortable tone. Although the methodical editing and pace can often feel sluggish and dry (particularly in the opening act), slowly but surely, we are sucked into the drama as it gradually builds into a powerful and explosive climax.
Everything about directors Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s movie appears to be very deliberately put together: the mechanical editing and camera movements, close-ups that are slightly too close, and shots that linger on past their welcome – all of these aspects of the filmmaking work to give an off-kilter tone. At first, this artistic choice can be distracting and slows the narrative to a snail’s pace, but when things finally do kick into gear this style becomes the perfect vessel to carry the themes of abuse explored within the relationship between protagonist Laura (Evan Rachel Wood), an unhinged woman with a self-destructive nature, and Eva (Julia Sarah Stone), a teenage girl living with Laura in secret, and her father (Denis O’Hare).
A large part of what makes Allure so captivating is Wood’s performance, which is simply phenomenal. She holds nothing back in her portrayal of Laura, proving the extent of her dramatic capabilities as she switches from compassionate lover to manipulative monster. Stone, too, is equally incredible, subtly showing Eva’s naivety and fragility without being overbearing or melodramatic. Although the focus here is on Laura, the picture could have benefited slightly from giving more attention to the effects of the abusive relationship she has found herself in; rather surprisingly, this is quickly pushed into the background and only resurfaces again towards the film’s conclusion.
Something else Allure should be applauded for is its ability to smoothly transition between being beautiful and bleak. The onscreen chemistry between Wood and Stone combined with a masterful control of editing and camera movement give genuine moments of affection before drastically changing direction with the same finesse of filmmaking. Lighting and sound also add to the overall atmosphere.
Beautiful yet unflinching in its depiction of abuse, Allure is a strange but provocative movie that grips viewers by the throat and pulls them straight into it. As the title suggests, it’s completely alluring.
Allure is released nationwide on 18th May 2018.
Watch the trailer for Allure here: