Directed by: #NicoleVandenBroeck
Oh, those halcyon days of youth! There’s a moment between childhood and adulthood which requires a leap across the precipice, knowing full well that you can’t go back. For many, that step is leaving home or going to university. For friends Sam (Ron Dadon) and Elle (Sarah Sawyer), this abrupt ending of childhood comes when Sam moves away. Like unbreakable blood pact, they give each other stick and poke tattoos of two tiny stars on their wrists.
Set in the 90s and burnished in soft browns, Elle exudes the popular aesthetic found on TikTok and Instagram, but there isn’t a hint of vapidity in sight. This period piece suggests a longing for the simpler summer-drenched past, and it’s heightened by its two stars, Sarah Sawyer and Ron Dadon. Elle is full of quiet glances. She does as Sam asks, and lies down on the floor so she can get tattooed. Even with just a few fraught glances at the camera, we slip into her inner world. Elle is obviously harbouring a secret. While Sam talks about dumping her boyfriend and suggests that Mason (Ethan Smart) may have a crush on Elle, she remains oblivious that Elle’s romantic interests may lie closer to home.
The warmth of friendship can be challenging to portray in film. While Elle doesn’t manage to attune itself completely to this familiarity as successfully as Russell T. Davies’ drama It’s A Sin, the relationship between these two girls hums with realism nonetheless. As they escape from the party to make P&J sandwiches, smearing the peanut butter thickly and haphazardly across the bread, it’s clear that these girls are most comfortable with each other. Yet, Elle’s attraction to Sam adds in a glimmer of isolation into the film. Elle doesn’t quite fit in. There are even traces of this on the audio. The boys’ voices create a low soft buzz that blurs into the background, creating an aura of silence around Elle herself. She may feel isolated, but kindness exudes this piece, and there’s hope just around the corner.
Elle feels like a sun-washed summer day. The film throws us back to our own teenage-hood and the last party before the end of high school. Elle never feels awkwardly cliched, but softly explores friendships and the experiences of queer youth. It’s heartwarmingly gentle and explores its themes with an ocean of kindness.