Like every genre of storytelling on the big and small screens, LGBT narratives are not without their cliches. Unfortunately, the strongest trope in queer media seems to misfortune – whether it’s bullying, unrequited love, parental disapproval or greater tragedies.
But All About E seems determined to shatter every preconceived idea about both the stories of LGBT characters and stories told down under. This delightfully unexpected Australian indie, the debut feature from homegrown production company Girls Own Pictures, is a triumphantly original, consistently exciting film and a wonderful feature film debut for writer/director Louise Wadley.
E (Mandahla Rose) is the hottest DJ in town and appears to have it all – but she’s never found the courage to come out to her traditionalist migrant parents (Kim Antonios Hayes, Lex Marinos), who are unimpressed that she gave up classical music for the club scene. When E ends up with a suitcase full of cash that belongs to dangerous thug Johnny Rock (Simon Bolton), she ends up on the run with her best mate Matt (Brett Rogers) – and seeking shelter from Trish (Julia Billington), the love of her life, who couldn’t deal with the stress of hiding their relationship.
All About E resists any attempt to fit tidily into a genre – is it a romance? A thriller? A family drama? A road movie? A hilarious comedy? It’s all of these things and more! While you could argue that it could have done without one or two of its genre diversions, by some miracle, it all fits together with ease, making it impossible to guess which direction the film will head in next – all too rare, and incredibly exciting to find, in stories on the big screen. The film carries some of the unavoidable hallmarks of low-budget filmmaking – almost completely confining itself to interior settings until E and Matt hit the road – but when this kind of economy allows such a wildly entertaining story to emerge, it’s something you’re more than happy to forgive.
The cast are uniformly excellent; Mandahla Rose as E carries the film with ease – she brings E to life as a wonderfully complex heroine, apparently having it all but with darker secrets gradually revealing themselves. Rose shares wonderful chemistry with Julia Billington as her old flame Trish – a lesbian romance thankfully lacking in self-loathing or tragedy – and effortlessly floats between happy and sad moments with Brett Rogers as best friend Matt.
A genre bending queer film that I couldn’t be prouder to say is homegrown, All About E is an engaging debut feature that serves as a brilliant showcase for all involved. It’s quite unlike anything you’ve seen before or will likely see again – but hey, if you find another lesbian thriller comedy romance that involves a road trip and a getaway in a light plane, please give me a call. I hope it’s half as good as this.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
All About E is screening as part of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, click here for more information and tickets