“Claire of the Moon” helmer Nicole Conn delivers another glam lesbian romance in “Elena Undone,” and once again the script is not the film’s strong suit. Tale of two Angelenos succumbing to mutual passion under difficult circumstances is enjoyable if unsubtle in its first half, then takes a long time stumbling toward an inevitable conclusion in the second. Despite flaws, niche DVD and cable sales should be brisk; Wolfe Video plans an early 2011 disc release.
Elena (Necar Zadegan) is married to Barry (Gary Weeks), a former actor-turned-pastor who angrily denounces gay marriage from the pulpit, if only because that’s the pet peeve of his congregation’s biggest donor. Elena, teen son Nash (Connor Kramme) and his precocious g.f., Tori (Sabrina Fuster), disagree with that stance.
But the issue only becomes a real problem when Elena meets Peyton (Traci Dinwiddie), a self-help novelist who apparently made a fortune writing about her struggle with agoraphobia. (Her house is so fabulous, you wouldn’t want to leave, either.)
Under the guise of working on a project together (Elena is a sometime photographer), the two form an increasingly ardent and awkward attachment. Both are wary — Elena for the obvious reasons, Peyton because she recently endured a painful breakup. But eventually the dam breaks.
While up to this point, pic hits all obvious notes in portraying its protags’ flushed, in-denial flirtatiousness, they’re still fun. But once the relationship becomes a full-blown affair, “Elena Undone” turns into an increasingly awkward, attenuated jumble of makeout scenes, pensive-walking-around montages and missed opportunities for more potent confrontations between the women, as well as between Elena and her suspicious, then shocked family.
Unabashedly focused on hot romance, pic doesn’t attempt the more nuanced treatment of faith-vs.-homosexuality issues in dramas such as “Save Me.” Still, there ought to be a lot more punch as these interpersonal conflicts escalate toward explosion. While her tin ear for dialogue has improved since the purple-tongued “Claire,” Conn still isn’t writer enough to maximize her own story’s possibilities. Rather than becoming more involving as it grows more serious, pic instead turns repetitious and meandering, with a ridiculous resolution less than worth the wait.
At the mercy of their material, perfs are variable — on the scale of character one-dimensionality, Erin Carufel’s homophobic church-lady villainess scores a perfect 10 — but generally decent. Middling comic relief is provided by Mary Wells as Peyton’s wisecracking neighbor and Sam Harris as a “love guru” who lectures us on finding your “twin flame.” Mock-doc interviews with other couples enliven pic’s progress and score a few genuinely sweet or funny moments.
Soundtrack is a over-wallpapered with the expected Olivia Records/Melissa Etheridge-sounding femme-rock cuts, especially when they plug dramatic gaps where insightful talk ought to be. Otherwise, packaging is modest but handsome in ways that won’t lose anything on the smallscreen.