Allure review: Evan Rachel Wood embarks on her most complex role yet in this disturbing and intriguing thriller.
Allure review by Kat Hughes.
Although an actor since she was tiny, it was only fifteen years ago, with Thirteen, that Evan Rachel Wood started to garner attention. Since then she has gone on to star in a multitude of interesting, and at times controversial, projects. Her latest, Allure, is no exception.
Wood stars as Laura, a seemingly damaged young woman who makes a living as a cleaner for her father’s (Denis O’Hare) company. After taking over cleaning for a new client, she starts to connect with the family’s teenage daughter Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). Sensing conflict in the household, Laura convinces Eva to run away and live with her. Laura then develops feelings for Eva and decides that she isn’t willing for the pair of them to ever be separated. As the relationship intensifies, skeletons from Laura’s past start to emerge, causing a catastrophic chain of events.
Allure is a dark and intense relationship thriller that keeps the viewer on their toes. The story is complex, and Laura is a multifaceted character with so many layers that at times it’s hard to know whether we should be viewing her as the hero or the villain; this is a film that is not afraid to venture into some taboo and dangerous topics. Whilst most of the relationship between Laura and Eva comes across on the screen as quite tender and sweet, the massive age gap between them, coupled with Laura’s need to have control, makes the viewer very uncomfortable. Essentially the movie is about a kidnapping, and then the potential grooming and Stockholm Syndrome that occurs in the wake of it. It’s a very bold choice for a film, and one that would potentially fall down the wrong path were it not for the fantastic performances of the entire cast.
Evan Rachel Wood is just phenomenal in this role. Laura is an incredibly complicated character, filled with so much depth – so many issues and life experiences, but Wood plays her perfectly. It takes a very strong actor to get the audience to empathise with a character who has, in essence, stolen a teenage girl away from her family before embarking on a sexual relationship with said girl. Typically this character would be completely vilified, but there’s something about the vulnerability that Wood injects into the role that makes everything a little more shades of grey than just black and white. The way too that she manipulates everyone around her shows a sinister range to Wood that is unsettling to watch.
Julia Sarah Stone has the tough job of acting alongside this strong performance, but despite her young age, she more than manages to hold her own. First seen by myself in Fantasia Festival Film The Unseen, Stone once again gives a measured turn. In many ways her character Eva goes on the bigger journey, from carefree teen to caged bird, but Stone never plays her as the victim and the audience is never quite sure whether they should buy Eva’s investment in her relationship with Laura. Denis O’Hare, of American Horror Story fame, also deserves a mention as Laura’s dad whose complex history with his daughter is showcased beautifully through just a handful of interactions.
In addition to the stellar performances, the story is compelling, complex and will certainly have the viewer unsure of who to root for. Allure delves into some very dark and disturbing themes but handles them respectfully. This is by no means an easy watch but is certainly an important watch. A sucker punch of emotional brutality and power, Allure weaves a tangled web of control and intensity that will leave you breathless.
Allure review by Kat Hughes, May 2018.
Allure is released in selected UK cinemas on Friday 18th May 2018.