Irresistible Review

Sophie Hartley (Susan Sarandon), an American living in Melbourne, seems to have it all. Married to Craig (Sam Neill) and the mother of two daughters, she has a successful career as an illustrator. But then she meets Craig's colleague Mara (Emily Blunt). Sophie comes to believe that Mara is stalking her, intent on taking away her husband and children and even her life...

After 1994’s Dallas Doll, an ineffective spin on Pasolini’s Theorem with Sandra Bernhard in the Terence Stamp role, Ann Turner did not make another feature for twelve years. Irresistible seems to have been taken on as a more commercial assignment and as such it’s effective: a who’s-doing-what-to-whom psychological thriller with a final twist I didn’t guess.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, it was a common complaint that Australian productions frequently imported American actors for no good reason. Sometimes it worked: Richard Chamberlain in The Last Wave and Meryl Streep in Evil Angels (A Cry in the Dark overseas) give strong performances in distinguished films. More often it didn’t – Charlie Schlatter is no-one’s idea of an Aussie in The Delinquents. Irresistible is set in Melbourne, but you’d only guess that from the accents of some of the supporting cast, as the three principals are played by an American, a London-born New Zealander and a Brit. To be fair, some justification is given for Sarandon’s character being in Australia, which is more effort than many filmmakers have made in the past. That said, the three leads do give solid performances, and it's always good to see the late Bud Tingwell, even in a small role as he has here. Turner manages suspense sequences ably enough. While she has yet to equal her debut feature Celia, this is the best of its three follow-ups to date. If ultimately rather disposable, it does its job for the hour and a half it’s onscreen, even though it fades from the memory fairly quickly.

If you wanted to follow a theme through Turner’s four features, there’s an emphasis on family dynamics, especially between parents and their offspring. There is also a penchant for a child’s perspective, though Irresistible differs slightly for reasons I won't specify to avoid spoilers. It may be an in-joke that one of Sophie's daughters resembles Celia, and is wearing a similar dress to her in one scene. There were quite a few Australian filmmakers, many of them women, who began making features in the late 1980s or early 1990s: as well as Turner there are Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof) and Jacqueline McKenzie (Waiting). All of them, like Turner, have found careers difficult to sustain and could be said not to have lived up to the promise of their first features. Turner is clearly a director of talent, and let’s hope it isn’t another twelve years before she next steps behind a camera.



The DVD


Irresistible is released by Icon on a dual-layered DVD encoded for Region 2 only. The disc begins with trailers for other Icon releases, which cannot be fast-forwarded but can be skipped by means of the chapter button: The Notorious Bettie Page, The Darwin Awards and The Night Listener.

The DVD transfer is in the original ratio of 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced. It's a little soft, though that is no doubt an aesthetic choice by Turner and her DP Martin McGrath. It's a quite acceptable picture, if not a stellar one – pretty much what you would expect from a film made in 2007, though not more.

The packaging of this DVD claims that it has a 5.1 soundtrack. It does not: the only mix is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track which plays in Dolby Surround via PCM/Dolby ProLogic. The lack of any multichannel mix, not even Dolby Digital let alone DTS, is highly unusual for such a recent film. It’s particularly regrettable as the Dolby Surround mix seems quite inventive in its use of directional sound. Subtitles are available for the hard-of-hearing.

Apart from the trailers mentioned above, the only extra is an alternate ending (3:31), which has only one shot different from the one used in the feature. It’s a change of emphasis rather than a completely different way of finishing the film.

Film
7 out of 10
Video
7 out of 10
Audio
7 out of 10
Extras
2 out of 10
Overall

7

out of 10
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