The 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement provides the not so scintillating backdrop for Vladan Nikolik‘s loosely structured, atmospheric drama interweaving the stories of four immigrant women living in New York City. Although boasting striking black-and-white, widescreen cinematography by Aleksandar Kostic and strong performances by its ethnically diverse ensemble, Allure never quite coheres into a dramatically arresting whole. But it does provide an interesting latest chapter in the Serbian director’s continuing examination of issues of immigration and assimilation previously dealt with in such stylistically diverse, acclaimed efforts as Love and Zenith.
The footage of the Wall Street protests doesn’t really add much to the meandering proceedings which all too often reflect the improvisatory nature of the scenes and dialogue. But the main characters emerge vividly nonetheless. They include undocumented Mexican immigrant Marta (Julia Konrad Viezzer), working a variety of low-paying jobs to support herself and her mother; Jin (Ying Ying Li), a young Chinese student whose family is urging her to return home; Valerie (Madeleine Assas), a middle-aged French journalist struggling with career and marital problems; and the Estonian Liliana (Diana Lotus), resorting into a life of prostitution.
Each is involved in or affected by the movement in one way or the other, but the political context largely takes a back seat to the diverse characters’ personal travails. The director, who teaches filmmaking courses at The New School, is clearly adept at the medium and assuredly handles the performers, a mixture of neophytes and experienced pros (Didier Flamand, who plays Valerie’s restless husband, has hundreds of credits, including Wings of Desire and Code Unknown, and Madeleine Assas starred in Godard‘s For Ever Mozart).
But the end results are too diffuse to have the desired impact, with the result that Allure ultimately has the feel of an experiment that doesn’t quite pay off.
Production: Surla Films, Kostic Films
Cast: Diana Lotus, Madeleine Assas, Aisha de Bankole, Ying Ying Li, Julia Konrad Viezzer, Didier Flamand, Patrick Arriaga, Caveh Zahedi
Director/editor: Vladan Nikolic
Producers: Vladan Nikolic, Aleksandar Kostic
Executive producer: Erick Werthman
Director of photography: Aleksandar Kostic
Production designer: Marija Plavsic-Kostic
Composer: Yves Dharamraj
No rating, 83 min.