This film was receiving praise before it even went into production. Winner of the Chicago Great Gay Screenplay competition and one of Outfests Scriptwriting Lab participants, writer/director Louise Wadley worked hard to develop this original and entertaining script. Funded by crowdfunding and private investment, this indie endeavor, featuring a story we’d be very unlikely to find in mainstream movies, All About E is a fascinating look at the diversity of Australian life. Spanning urban, suburban and rural settings, with characters from a range of backgrounds, the film is hard to pin down. Even its plot, with shades of crime caper, romance, farcical comedy, road movie and family drama, is not easy to categorize.
“I wanted to mix things up with this film” says Wadley, “and show that as long as the audience is taken care of and they are engaged and care about the characters, they will follow you. As a writer/director I wanted to go from comedy to pathos and make a really entertaining film that is actually about something quite complex.”
Complex indeed! In the opening scenes we are introduced to sexy DJ and womanizer, E. An Arabic Australian woman, her Spanish themed nights are the toast of the hottest gay club in town, as she rules the stage in a Matador outfit. But she longs to change the theme to something more in-keeping with her own Lebanese culture – perhaps an Arabian Nights theme – and is frustrated when her unsavory boss, Johnny refuses this in no uncertain, and racist, terms.
The next morning E and her gay Irish bestie/husband-of-convenience Matt realize she inadvertently brought home a huge bag of cash from the taxi last night. With the idea of opening up their own club in mind, they flee with the money, only finding out once it’s too late that the money belongs to her boss. Having scorned every woman in town, E finds no one is willing to help, and a visit to her parents shows us another, softer side to the woman who seemed to be so confident and in control. E, whose full name is Elmira, was a clarinet prodigy and chose her career in DJ-ing over a promising one in classical music. After Johnny calls to let her know exactly where her money came from, she fears her parents will be in danger if she remains. The only place she can go is deep into the outback, where the girlfriend she betrayed has made a new life. Haunted by memories of how she wronged Trish, E heads to her farm to hide out and make amends.
“The inspiration was born out of a deep frustration of not seeing my Australia represented on screen.” says Wadley, “Where is the multicultural world that is the reality of most Australian Cities ? You just don’t see it. We need to catch up with our story telling and our casting. Why not have a woman of color be the lead? So her cultural background doesn’t have to be the whole story just as why not have lesbians in other roles in drama as just a fact and a part of their character not the reason for the whole story. So it isn’t a coming out story. It isn’t a story that is just about being Arabic Australian – it’s a beautiful story about finding yourself that’s also a road movie, a thriller and a love story.”
Along with the surprising cultural context, the film’s other greatest strength is its beautifully done love scene. We all know it when a lesbian sex scene rings false and this one is refreshingly true to life. Grounded in the dynamic between these two characters, the scene – which is intimate without being graphic – really gets lesbian sex right
“I wanted to write a scene that was different to much of what I have seen in screen in the past.” says Waldey, “I wanted to show a beautiful love scene between two women that was both passionate and real but also one that was complex and told a story like all of our other scenes. A sex scene that was not coy but was also not just gynecological or porn-like in its approach.”
This scene has received a lot of praise. Mandahla Rose who played E told me,
“It’s wonderful when people approach me telling me specifically how beautiful the scene was. I even had a 13 year old gender fluid individual approach me and they said how much they loved the story and how much they adored the love scene because it wasn’t just two lesbians sharing this beautiful moment, it was two lovers and that is what made the difference.”
All About E is a film with so much going on. It will make you laugh and maybe even cry, is full of well-observed cultural detail and is certainly not your average lesbian movie.
You can see the movie on Wolfe Video here.
Francesca Lewis is a queer feminist writer from Yorkshire, UK. She writes for Curve Magazine and The Human Experience as well as writing short fiction and working on a novel. Her ardent love of American pop culture is matched only by her passion for analyzing it completely to death.