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Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)

5/10

Stars: Sophie Hawkshaw, Zoe Terakes, Marta Dusseldorp, Julia Billington, Rachel House

Director: Monica Zanetti

A lesbian rom-dramedy from Australia. I was going to say romcom, but, although the film starts out like a goofy comedy, it soon develops into mainly serious stuff. Indeed, it's not so much a story as it is an account of the LGBT movement in Oz, its tragedies, objectives and future. The didactic tone is unsurprising as the stars, director and many of the cast and crew are themselves gay.

To say you could summarise the story in a nutshell would be doing the nutshell an injustice. Ellie (Hawkshaw), a tall, glumpy 17-year-old in the Georgy Girl tradition, has a crush on boyish classmate Abbie (Terakes), who cautiously returns her interest, although each is reluctant to put her feelings on a mobile.

Elli's mum (Dusseldorp) proves unexpectedly resistant to the idea of her daughter being gay - it's the Grandmother thing - but Ellie's long-dead aunt (Billington), herself a gay rights activist of the late 1980s, makes a spectral appearance to her daughter's eyes only - 'I'm your fairy godmother; fairy, gay, fairy,' she chuckles (yes dear, you had us on the first 'fairy') - to sort Ellie's life out.

And that's the plot. Really, that's it. That's all, folks. There are no unexpected developments, twists or turns before the putative lovers finally exchange kisses at the 'formal' (apparently the Aussie equivalent of a prom). The young leads are OK, but are easily outscored by the far-more-professional performances of Ellie's mum and aunt. Best thing about this film is the title.

David Quinlan

Australia 2020. UK Distributor: Kaleidoscope. Colour (unspecified).
82 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 10 Jun 2021