Allure (2017) – Film Review

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Directors: Carlos & Jason Sanchez
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Julia Sarah Stone, Denis O’Hare
Certificate: 18

by Sarah Morgan

Canada produces some of the world’s biggest TV and film-making talents, but it often feels as if they have to leave their home nation to make their names in the media world.

The latest locals who may be forced to do so are Carlos and Jason Sanchez, Montreal-born siblings who started out as fine art photographers. However, as their work often looked like film stills, it was only a matter of time before they started making movies.

They moved into video first before tackling their debut feature Allure, which was actually titled ‘A Worthy Companion’ when it premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

The brothers wrote as well as directed the low budget character piece (it seems to have been made for about £10, and is perhaps all the more interesting for it), and the result is one of the most disturbing pieces of cinema I’ve seen in a long time.

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“Disturbed young woman”

At its heart is a startling performance from Evan Rachel Wood, who is perhaps best known for taking the role of Dolores Abernathy in Sky’s lavish drama Westworld.

She’s an actress who clearly wants to push herself; she’s attractive enough to coast along in blockbusters, but you get the sense that she wants a long career rather than being one of those stars who burns brightly and then fades away once the wrinkles appear.

The Sanchez brothers nevertheless were lucky to land her, and it’s difficult to imagine anybody else with as big a name appearing for what must have been a paltry fee.

She plays Laura, who is clearly a disturbed young woman desperately searching for a connection with somebody. She believes she’s found it in Eva, a teenager stifled by her mother and facing further torment after it’s announced she will be moving in with her new boyfriend.

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“Remarkable character study”

Laura offers Eva a place to stay, and before long, Eva discovers that Laura’s obsessive love for her is perhaps even more oppressive than her mother’s behaviour.

The two women stay together, but as the tale progresses, we uncover ghosts from Laura’s past that explain why she is such a damaged soul.

Wood lays everything on the line here; you can imagine it was a difficult shoot for her as she lay bare her character’s raw emotions.

What makes Laura’s relationship with Eva even more disturbing is the fact that the actress playing her, Julia Sarah Stone, may have been 19 at the time playing 16, but actually looks more like 12.

Allure isn’t going to cheer anybody up if they’re feeling down, but it is a remarkable character study. Expect bigger things to come from all involved.

‘Allure’ is released on DVD by Eureka Entertainment, £9.99


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