Highlighting Suspicion and Suspense
Faced with problems like the ones confronting the main character in Irresistible, any normal woman would begin to doubt her own sanity. Played by Susan Sarandon at the top of her game, Sophie Hartley is mourning the recent death of her mother, trying to be a super mom to two little daughters and a good wife to her husband -- all the while struggling to meet deadlines as an illustrator. This frazzled woman becomes concerned when items go missing from the house and she hears strange noises in various rooms. Sophie thinks someone is entering her home with evil intentions. Who could it be and what would that person want? Or is Sophie showing symptoms of paranoia?
Combining elements of Gaslight and What Lies Beneath, writer/director Ann Turner (Celia) has crafted an involving psychological thriller that had me guessing about what was happening to the very end. I absolutely love this kind of suspense movie! Because Sarandon delivers such a convincing performance, I was with Sophie every step of the way -- even when she did seemingly irresponsible things like stalking the woman she picked as her main suspect.
As I mention in my book Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick, Sarandon admits she prefers portraying “strong but imperfect women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and what these women do is at great cost to themselves.” In Irresistible, her character certainly meets these requirements. Sophie is strong, but she’s going through a bad time in her life. Thinking her marriage and her family are in danger, she takes dramatic actions that put her in great peril, both emotionally and physically. Sarandon, brilliant at projecting a combination of strength and vulnerability (remember Reggie Love in The Client?), runs away with this movie -- as she’s done with so many others.
However, Sam Neill (Jurassic Park III) and Emily Blunt (My Summer of Love) also excel as Sophie’s worried husband and sexy co-worker. In the early part of the movie, the always reliable Neill makes his character look like the perfect spouse. He appears concerned about his wife’s welfare and seems above suspicion. Later, Neill adds a bit of an edge to the husband, just enough to cause us to wonder about him. Blunt’s role requires her to exude the sexual attraction of a younger woman and to make viewers as suspicious of her as Sophie is, which she accomplishes -- in no small part because of her natural beauty.
Although the twist ending in Irresistible surprised me completely, it makes perfect sense. But why this excellent movie went straight to DVD makes no sense at all.
(Released by First Look Home Entertainment; not rated by MPAA.)