There are many stereotypes in the mainstream cinema. Sometimes, we are so used to seeing those stereotypical storytelling approaches on the silver screen, that we do not even notice them. For example, on most stories, male characters have more dominating roles. It is the male characters who are the criminals, serial killers. Why do we not see many female characters as villains? Let’s face it – sometimes women can be more brutal and heartless than any man we’ve ever met in our lives.
This is one of the reasons why I was so curious about a film that will break this stereotype. Co-writing and co-directing the film “Allure”, Jason and Carlos Sanchez bring to us an incredible and believable story that has every component to play with: love, abduction, victimization, taking advantage of a person, manipulation and a lot more. You might say that all the above mentioned sounds like a “woman-type” film. Well, with “Allure” you will never feel otherwise.
Laura (Evan Rachel Wood) works for the cleaning service company owned by her father William (Denis O’Hare). Being a hardworking young woman, she also has another job to fulfill at night – having aggressive, somewhat violent and dominating intercourses with men who are not so much appreciated. Her life changes abruptly and in a very unpredictable way when she meets Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). Eva is the sixteen-year-old daughter of one of her clients. Laura convinces Eva to run away with her and live in her house. What starts as a romantic relationship soon turns upside down. Eva is yet to realize that she is about to turn from a guest into a victim of abduction.
Eva is a talented pianist. Though, she needs a few smokes to master the classical piece she is playing. Even her over-demanding mother notices the difference in her performance. Eva’s complicated relationship with her parents is what pushes her toward Laura – their housecleaner in the first place. Laura is almost a decade older and convinces Eva to run away together. At first, everything goes smoothly. Eva gets the freedom she has always been craving for. Her relationship with Laura grows dynamically. It is the visit of the detective to Laura’s workplace that changes the ideal situation for Laura when she realizes what she might face if the police arrest her. After all, she has been lying and having a relationship with an underage girl.
At this point, the viewer already knows what type of personality they have to deal with throughout the film. I must emphasize, this is rather disturbing. A classical relationship between a victim and an abductor begins. There is one particular scene that gives you a perfect idea of what is going on. Eva gets a chance to get on a bus and escape from Laura for good. Instead, due to her caring nature, naiveté or who knows what, she watches the door of the bus close in front of her as she stays where she is “the happiest and most mature person” on Earth.
This dynamics would’ve not worked if not for the brave performance delivered by Evan Rachel Wood and the shocking departure from any type of role I’ve seen before. She is terrifying, relentless, and manipulative, while Julia Sarah Stone’s Eva is the opposite of what you see in Laura. Eva is a young freedom-seeker – strong, but very vulnerable with what she has to face. Her young mind is immature to realize that she must run away from Laura as far as she can. No matter how dangerous and repulsive Laura is, Eva seems blindsided by this new adventure she has found herself in.
In conclusion, “Allure” by Carlos and Jason Sanchez is a vivid, refreshing and impressive piece of art. With the right set of mind and right mood, the viewer has no other option but to appreciate the film. Some viewers may find it very difficult if not unbearable to watch, especially the rape scene. But we must remember one thing – certain scenes cannot be avoided, as they are important parts of the story and will justify Laura’s rock bottom when she will hit it. Stories like this do not need cheesiness but harsh storytelling. Violence is not soft, gentle or caring; and it must be captured the way it is- unacceptable and hurting. Even if some scenes are disturbing, I recommend to stay and watch this film until the end. Because it is a brilliant and somewhat a true story. Things like this happen too often in our society, and it does not require a credit that says “based on true events” to reflect our reality so closely.