Allure, the first film by Carlos and Jason Sanchez (Montreal brothers with nearly identical fine art photographer CVs), spins a thrillery setup concerning a kidnapping, obsession, and young lust into a finely probing character study and acting showcase that rattles and titillates. Julia Sarah Stone plays (barely, Canadian) age of consent-cracking 16 year-old Eva, whose unhappy home life is dominated by a frosty mother and incessant piano practice. In protest, she runs away with the cleaning lady, namely 30 year-old Laura (Evan Rachel Wood), whose close attentions, cool haircut and above-it-all mien magnetize the teen to her.
Trouble is, Laura is a hot mess, moonlighting in rough sex prostitution and soon feeding Eva pot and screwdrivers, not necessarily to ply her, just because it’s all she knows. Laura’s intentions are capitally dubious, but it’s still a slanted love story, even if Eva does end up locked in a basement. Wood (Thirteen, Westworld, Mildred Pierce) is in control here, winning you to her side before challenging your loyalty with every awful, self-pitying, damage-driven decision. As her quietly exasperated father, Denis O’Hare is the other MVP. The Sanchezes’ taste in pretty establishing shots is unimpeachable, their riskier gambits (generic slo-mo dancing, metaphorical underwater sinking shots out of Under the Skin) less so, but the performances and evenly distributed empathy lift Allure.
Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2017 | Dispatch 3.