"Elena Undone" (USA 2010, 111 minutes) is the newest work by writer, filmmaker, and raconteur Nicole Conn. Exploring the idea of Soulemetry, Conn's work is the XX-chromosome that is-opener for Philadelphia's QFest LGBT Film Festival. (The other opening night film is Jay Arnold's "You Can't Have It All," a world premiere.) Necar Zadegan, whom "24" aficionados may find familiar, plays the title role of a woman whose personal epiphany has repercussions for everyone she holds dear in her life. And it is only in finding the light, that she didn't know she was missing, that she is able to find her way.
Peyton Lombard, played by the delicious Traci Dinwiddie, known to many from "Supernatural," is a woman whose life is also changing. Recently having lost her mother, as well being left by the woman she thought she'd be with for the rest of her life, Peyton's search for meaning leads her to unexpected places as well.
The film is populated with people who might actually look like your friends, and act like them as well. There could not be a greater contrast between Peyton's laconic and dark best friend Wave, played by English actor Mary Wells, and Elena's best friend Tyler, who is the sparkly self-help genius behind Soulemetry, played by Sam Harris. Yes, THAT Sam Harris who dominated "Star Search's" first season and has since become an actor, writer, and singer, whose rendition of "Over the Rainbow" still gives me thrills. The thread running through the film is how we meet the person who completes us and how we might not always recognize that person when he or she first arrives in our lives.
Conn also has a lot to say about organized religion, how and when to take advice and where life might lead. Gary Weeks plays Elena's actor-turned-evangelical minister husband, who leads his congregation in work to defeat gay marriage, despite having had gay friends during his theatrical days. Connor Kramme plays their son Nash, and Sabrina Fuster, his girlfriend, who in real life is a singer/songwriter, whose work is featured, along with that of God-des and She, Otto's Daughter and more. This is a must-see film, not just for women who love women, and we women who love them-men and women alike will find something memorable in this film, which is the perfect choice to start QFest 2010 off on a very high note. "Elena Undone" will be a tough act to follow.
Catch "Elena Undone" at the Ritz East, 125 South Second Street, in Theater Two, on July 8 at 7:15 p.m., and in Theater One, on July 10 at 12:15 p.m. Visit http://www.qfest.com for further information.