Sophie (Susan Sarandon) is the middle-aged mother to two young girls, married to architect Craig (Sam Neill), and the respected artist of a few children's books for which she has won awards. She juggles the duties of her work with being a wife and mother fairly well, she thinks, but is she quite as adept as she believes? As she plays with her children in the street near her home, she remembers she has left the iron on and rushes back to turn it off, but on bursting into her back room she finds she was wrong, and the iron was off anyway. So why as she is walking back out again does it hiss and steam? Did Craig return and switch it off just there? He doesn't seem to be anywhere about. What if someone else was present?
An odd little thriller, Irresistible appeared to be a drama about a woman losing her mind until it became something like that, but different enough to constitute a twist – or two. It was the brainchild of Australian writer and director Ann Turner, who had generated a minor cult following for her offbeat work, not exactly prolific but what there was in her filmography won her a few fans most obviously for her menacing study of childhood Celia. This was no less unconventional since while watching you had the impression not only was Sophie being discombobulated by the story, but Turner was dead set on doing the same to the audience, deliberately confounding your expectations.
What that meant were a plethora of scenes where Repulsion-style nightmares encroached on the protagonist's days, with the major difference that we could not be sure if someone really does have it in for her and is sneaking into her house to upset her, or if it's all her in increasingly fractured mind. That Sophie ends up doing to someone else what she expects them of doing to herself produced a heavy degree of irony that even when the plot was resolved after a fashion, there had been much we had seen that didn’t quite fit the narrative, leaving a very strange mood about the entire thing. It was as if it posed as a conventional psycho-thriller, but was reluctant to embrace the conventions.
In truth, even when you took into account that Sophie and Craig had their kids late, both Sarandon and Neill were probably too old for their roles, yet even that had you wondering if what you were watching was the fantasies of a troubled mind, and you would not be in the least bit surprised to learn the girls didn't exist and were in fact a figment of Sophie's overactive imagination. Yet even that would seem too obvious for Turner, leaving a curiously incomplete feeling by the time the end credits were rolling which would frustrate many viewers hoping for loose ends tied up, especially given the person stalking (or not) Sophie would need near-supernatural powers to get up to what she does.
Sophie thinks her tormentor is her husband's co-worker Mara (Emily Blunt doing an Aussie accent), who seems friendly enough on first meeting at a party, but as the days pass by our paranoid heroine begins to suspect she is trying to infiltrate her life and is stealing objects from her home to nonplus her. Her reaction? She starts stalking Mara back, if indeed Mara was stalking her in the first place, further muddying the waters in what becomes an enigmatic tale of how parents and children can feel about one another, be that hanging on to them in a display of protection, or overprotection, or letting them go to forge their own path, either way according to this they're not going to wind up half as healthy and settled as you or they would have hoped. That's not to say there was a guarantee you would come away from this entirely satisfied as Turner almost perversely resisted offering a conclusion that would content everyone, it appeared to be like other thrillers but on examination was really weird, awkward and convoluted. Music by David Hirschfelder.