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Irresistible (2006): Poetic Paranoia


Written and directed by Ann Turner and starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Emily BluntIrresistible is a brilliant little psychological thriller. All the actors play their respective roles with conviction and help move the film along at a cracking pace.

The film deals with issues of obsession, paranoia, guilt, and abandonment. Shot on what appears to be a rather small budget, the film doesn’t suffer too badly from the lack of monetary backing. Although there is one ‘CG’ moment with wasps in a garden ornament that suffers badly from the ‘limited’ budget.

That one moment small moment of CG imagery gone wrong is not enough to upset the flow of the film.  While watching it, my daughter and I continually changed our minds about what was really happening to the main protagonist. Sarandon gives a brilliant performance as the beleaguered heroine of the film; not surprising as she worked with writer/director Ann Turner on ‘fine-tuning’ the script for six months prior to filming.

The movie begins with Sophie Hartley (Sarandon) playfully interacting with her two daughters, Ellie and Ruby (Joanna Hunt-Prokhovnik,  Lauren Mikkor), as they walk home from school. Sophie suddenly remembers that she left the iron on and they all run home. Entering the house and rushing to the room where the iron is, Sophie is surprised to see the iron off and the cord neatly wrapped around the  handle. Picking the iron up, she wets the end of her finger and touches the surface. Contact with the iron proves that it is still red hot.

It is with this jarring moment that the film really starts. As events move forward, it appears that Sophie is either going crazy or becoming paranoid and at the start of the film it felt that things could even be heading towards a supernatural influence.

Sophie is a highly visible Children’s Illustrator and she has the awards to testify to her talent. She is working on a venture that has been suggested by her editor. A group of well known Illustrator’s have been tasked to illustrate their darkest personal moment. It is this project that is causing Sophie a lot of stress. This combined with her mother’s recent death results in insomnia and the artist’s version of ‘writer’s block.’

It is also her anniversary and husband Craig (Sam Neill) sends a musical trio of  girls to deliver a huge bouquet of flowers to Sophie showing that, before he even enters the film properly,  he is very much in love with his wife. In a prelude of things to come Ellie loses her favourite toy, Ruby loses a game and Sophie’s scrapbook pictures are being moved as well as missing.

While all this is going on, she has to attend a work’s party put on by her husband’s ‘assistant’ Mara (Emily Blunt). While at the party, Mara takes sole possession of Sophie and seems very attracted to her and appears to be forming an unhealthy attachment. She can’t stop touching Sophie and she plies her with drink. At the end of the party Sophie is quite intoxicated and one of Craig’s other co-workers tell Sophie that people think she is an alcoholic.

Understandably upset at this information she gets into a little spat with Craig as they leave the party. Sophie notices that Mara is staring at them from a first floor balcony. As they drive off, Mara continues to stare.

Things start spinning out of control from that point on. Sophie is caught trespassing in Mara’s house and a restraining order is placed on her forbidding any contact with Mara. She is now suffering from exhaustion and unable to sleep, drops off while working and has disturbing and frightening dreams.

I really cannot write anything else about the plot of the film without revealing  a lot of mega-spoilers. This film had me and my daughter second guessing right up until the last frame.  It is a brilliant blend of mystery, thriller and drama. There are moments in the film where you revert to child-hood and want to shout at the characters on-screen while simultaneously cringing at their actions.

I really need to say how well the two ‘child’ actors did in their roles as Ellie and Ruby. Both girls gave a perfectly believable performance. I’m sure that these two will be doing a lot more as they get older. Their contribution to the film helped to build the film’s believability factor a lot.

The devices that Turner uses in the film to create tension, suspense and mystery are not of the usual types  normally found  in films like this. She has taken  ‘everyday’ occurrences and twisted them to create an atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion that drives the film forward and makes us, the audience, suspect everyone and everything.

I don’t know how well this film was received or whether it was even released theatrically, but it is a real corker of a movie.

It’s on Netflixat the moment, so don’t hesitate to watch this film.

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

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Categorised in: Australian Cinema, Drama, Film Reviews, Independent Film, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

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