Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2019 romantic comedy film, Ellie & Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt), directed by Monica Zanetti.
The bubbly, high achieving 17-year-old Ellie (Sophie Hawkshaw), despite her daily affirmations, is struggling to find the courage to ask her classmate and crush, Abbie (Zoe Terakes), to the formal. After matter-of-factly coming out to her mother Erica (Marta Dusseldorp), Ellie is approached by the ghost of her Aunt Tara (Julia Billington), a self-proclaimed “Fairy Godmother”, to guide young Ellie through this challenging time.
Writer/director Monica Zanetti tackles the angst of the Australian formal in her feature directorial debut, complicated with Ellie’s burgeoning feelings for her female classmate. Insisting she is normal, and that such an occurrence is nothing special, Ellie’s coming-out nevertheless sends shockwaves through her family, including her dead aunt, and unlocks a trauma from her past.
Hawkshaw is likeable as the upbeat, type-A Ellie who starts her days reciting positive mantras to help her focus on her goals. Identifying a new goal in asking Abbie to the formal, Ellie is forced to dig deep within herself instead of relying on impersonal platitudes. It is the appearance of Ellie’s looser, free-spirited (dead) aunt that seemingly complicates matters while also revealing a deeper reason for Ellie’s mother’s growing concerns.
Terakes steals the show as Abbie; effortlessly laid-back, sarcastic and wise beyond her years, Abbie finds Ellie amusing but is quick to establish herself as one not to be played with.
Verdict: A heartfelt, sweetly awkward coming-of-age comedy that also explores intergenerational trauma. Asking a girl to the formal is never easy! 3 stars.
- Luke McWilliams | themovieclub.net