Allure

Imagine the ugliest possible manufactured creation, as repugnant as your mind’s eye can dredge up. Envision an object that represents the worst of humanity. Now suppose that it is made of the best materials by the finest artisans, masters of their crafts. Every texture and color is refined and beautiful. Each detail is sheer perfection. All for the most hideous item conceivable,  but why? That is the puzzle of Allure, directed by Canadian fine art photographers and first-time directors Carlos and Jason Sanchez.

“…it looks to the viewer very much like an abduction…

Allure gives us Evan Rachel Wood as Laura, an extremely dysfunctional troubled young woman who befriends normally troubled 16-year-old girl Eva (Julia Sarah Stone) and helps her “escape” her overbearing mother. Laura meets Eva when she’s doing a house cleaning job for her father’s cleaning service, the only job she can keep as her father overlooks her many issues.  When she takes Eva away it looks to the viewer very much like an abduction and indoctrination but Laura would not see it this way, of course. In the beginning, Eva doesn’t see how wrong it is either. Eva is too young and Laura too broken to realize that there could be no good resolution to this situation. It’s all bad news.

Laura was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and she is full of narcissistic rage and destructive self-loathing that erupt in frequent violent outbursts. She is seen meeting a man at a hotel for rough sex and it’s not playtime: she’s out for blood.

This is an exquisite portrait of human suffering. Particularly for first-time writer/directors the film is a marvel, a brilliant objet d’art that is incredibly unpleasant to watch. The performances are searing. The better the portrayals, the more uncomfortable the film becomes. Evan Rachel Wood is pure fire in this film, she’s absolutely flawless at the top of her game, which means you’ll be gutted watching Laura spiraling down. The thought of this experience for underage Eva is nauseating. Again, I question why it needs to exist?

“…an exquisite portrait of human suffering.”

My rating reflects the quality of the film and the performances, but not whether I enjoyed it. I didn’t. What’s offered here is not why I watch movies.

Allure (2018). Written and directed by Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Julia Sarah Stone, Denis O’Hare.

8 out of 10

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