Allure: In the directorial debut of brothers Carlos and Jason Sanchez, Allure follows the emotionally unstable Laura (Evan Rachel Wood) and the tumultuous relationship she forms with a sixteen-year-old girl named Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). As a long-buried trauma and dysfunctional family ties begin to unravel, Laura possessively holds onto Eva as a reminder of the innocence she has lost.
Picture Perfect: It is evident from the cinematic sophistication of each frame of the film that the Sanchez brothers have ample experience in photography. The neon blur of karaoke bars and symmetrical loneliness of motel hallways creates a world of dark artistry, mirroring the bleak cloud that surrounds the character of Laura as she continuously makes the wrong choices in her life. As her attachment with Eva deepens, so does the intensity of the shots, either through shadows framing the face or an illuminating light emphasizing the vulnerability of a teenager trapped in an abusive cycle.
Lost in Translation: While Evan Rachel Wood portrays her role with a believable intensity and the moments of thematic tension are effective, the story itself falters as it tries to evoke feelings of escape or redemption. Eva’s character is perceived as an impressionable youth inclined to stay with an older woman because she feels she owes Laura for helping her find independence, but other than that acting as the catalyst to their pseudo-romance, her presence is merely reduced to being a foil to Laura’s damaged psyche. Questions still remain on the circumstances behind the strained relationship between Laura, her father, and her disabled brother, which might confuse viewers due to the lack of reliability of the main character to tell the truth.
Although visually stimulating, Allure offers a storyline that is knotted with loose ends and tangled plot threads.