My thesis for my MA degree was based on the subject of my favourite type of film character – the femme fatale. So it was no surprise that Mr. D. and I enjoyed the movie we watched last night, Irresistible, starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neil and Emily Blunt. It was actually released in 2006 but for some reason, I’ve only just got round to watching it! But it was definitely worth the wait.
Sarandon’s character, New York- born Sophie Hartley, is the archetypal woman who has everything: a fabulous life in Australia; two beautiful daughters; a loving and successful husband; a close relationship with her father; a gorgeous house (I asked Mr. D. when we were going to get a house like that) and a great career as an painter and illustrator. And is she happy? You’ve guessed it, NO! Sophie is haunted by a secret which she has carried with her since her teenage years – and it’s a secret that threatens to destroy her piece of mind and happy family life.
Step forward the beautiful Mara (played by Blunt) who works with Sophie’s husband, Craig (played by Neil.) Stunning, intelligent, with a home and family life that looks as though it came straight out of the pages of a magazine, Mara seems a little too good to be true. Always willing to help Craig both in and out of the office, Mara also quickly latches on to Sophie as soon as she meets her and is eager for the two of them to be good friends. Mara tries to bond with Sophie through their role as mothers and also confides in her about the tragic death of her best friend Kate. But is Kate’s death all it seems to be? And can Sophie trust Mara?
It would appear not, as over the course of the next few weeks, trivial items appear to be going missing from Sophie’s home. It’s all put down to forgetfulness; grief over her mother’s death; tiredness and scattiness in general before Sophie begins to question Mara’s motives and suspects that she may be the culprit behind the strange goings on. Her suspicions do nothing to endear her to Craig who is slowly beginning to lose patience with his wife and refuses to listen to her. Sophie realises that the real reason why Craig refuses to listen to her and fire Mara is because he’s secretly falling for his employee. So in order to get proof that she’s being stalked, Sophie turns to stalking her tormentor – and a chain of catastrophic events follow.
Irresistible is an Australian film, set in Melbourne and directed by Anne Turner. It’s enjoyable but it has a rather earthy, no-frills vibe to it rather than the glossy veneer of the nineties Hollywood movies of the same ‘crazy woman’ genre that I loved and still love e.g. – Single, White Female, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Disclosure etc. This film is packed full of twists, so it is very entertaining, although I did predict a couple of those twists. However, the final twist was a real shocker that I would never have guessed, but Mr. D. was left feeling confused by this so perhaps more clarity was needed so that the viewer could really feel the impact when Mara’s true identity is revealed. Plus a little more of the eerie factor wouldn’t have gone amiss, so that the final scene would have been as strong as that in Psycho. Furthermore, I feel that the title is a little misleading and a more appropriate one could have been chosen.
I know this film didn’t get spectacular reviews but then again it didn’t get terrible ones either. With a few tweaks here and there it could have been in the same league as other femme fatale films – this one was edging dangerously close to the border of soap opera territory. But it was still a good film with a strong cast and I would definitely watch it again (Blunt’s Aussie accent was very convincing.) It would be worth watching just to see Emily Blunt’s outfits again – that girl must have had a field day in wardrobe!
Of course films like this always make you think. A character like Mara can strike fear into the heart of the viewer. What would you do if you were Sophie and someone was threatening the stability of your home life? How would you feel if no one would listen when you tried to tell them that the likeable young miss was not who she claimed to be? And what would you do if your once devoted husband suddenly had his head turned by his new, pretty, young colleague? I was able to give Mr. D. an answer to the last question when he asked me – he soon wished he hadn’t!
My husband and I pretty much gave up on television a while back. No matter how many channels there were, there still didn’t seem to be anything worth watching. But there are still some shows we make time to watch religiously. At a risk of sounding like a couple of oldies who have nothing better to do, Mr. D. and I are addicted to culinary competitions which seem to be all the rage on television these days: Come Dine With Me, The Great British Bake Off, Masterchef, Next Great Baker… you name it, we watch it! In fact it’s more than watching it’s become a full scale obsession. We must tune in to see what happens next: who stays… and who goes. Oops! That’s Big Brother which we don’t watch!
We have a lot of fun watching these shows. They’re entertaining and informative but they can also be quite depressing. Why? Because after years of thinking that I’m a pretty good cook (I’m no Heston but I’m not bad either) I’ve suddenly realised that compared to the contestants who take part in these shows, my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. I’ve come to this conclusion after realizing that:
- My pastry making skills are far from perfect (as explained by Mr. Hollywood and Ms. Berry.)
- I have no idea how to make sushi – even though I love to eat it!
- There is a tendancy for me to overcook food (as pointed out by Mr. D!)
- I can really only bake cakes when I have a little help from my friend Betty Crocker.
- Rare, medium rare, medium, well done… it’s all the same to me!
- I’ve lost the ability to poach a decent egg.
- I’ve never heard of half of the ingredients mentioned in the show.
- There is no way I can chop onions, apples, carrots etc. so that all the pieces are virtually identical.
- I have no idea how to debone a duck.
- There’s very little chance of me being able to adequately filet a fish.
- I don’t have the kind of palette where I can successfully identify every ingredient in a dish.
- It’s really not a good idea for me to attempt to flambé anything…
- Me and sharp knives are a dangerous combination so it’s really not a good idea for me to go at the speed of the professional chefs or the other contestants.
- I like to take my time in the kitchen – that probably explains why we never eat before 10pm.
- I probably don’t add as much seasoning as I should.
- I love eating shellfish – but haven’t got a clue how to prepare it.
- This may be an Anglo-Italian household but there is no freshly made pasta in this house as neither of us know how to prepare it!
- If I cook fish so that the skin is super crispy, it’ll be burnt.
- We like to drench our food in sauce – none of this ‘little smidgeon’ business.
- We also like large portions in this house!
- I haven’t got a clue how to make ketchup or barbeque sauce from scratch.
- I’ve never used most of the gadgets and kitchen appliances I’ve seen.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ve learnt a lot from watching these shows and have got lots of new ideas. We like to put what we’ve learnt into practice:
- I can make bruschetta better than I did before.
- I now know what goes into making honeycomb.
- I know how to remove bones from fish easily.
- I know the secret to a good pesto sauce.
- Seasoning is important!
- So is not overcooking food!
- Garnishes are important but there should also have a purpose other than just decoration.
- We come across lots of new flavour combinations.
- I know that you should never wash sea urchin (not that I’m likely to cook it!)
- we’re trying to put into practice that less is more!
- I know what’s meant by tunnel boning.
- I also know what a ballotine is.
- I know how to pronounce words such as ‘coulis’ and ‘melange’.
- I see the contestants mistakes and know what NOT to do.
I still have an awful lot to learn and I’m getting there slowly. There’s still hope for me. But I know that no matter how much I learn, I would never want a dressing down from Mr. Hollywood or Mr. Ramsay so there’s no chance of me ever entering one of these competitions. I know which side of the television screen is the safest for all concerned!