Oh what a merry dance Nicole Conn is taking us on here with Elena Undone. Or maybe we should say merry roller coaster. Ups and downs, highs and lows. Usually it’s pretty easy to spot a bad movie versus a good one, there are a few definitive calling cards. Bad music? Check. Overwrought dialogue? Check. A distracting film within a film? Check. Cliched love letters? Check, check and CHECK.
However, annoyingly, unlike her other efforts that have quite simply been awful, Conn won’t let this one go without a fight. So there are also a whole bunch of up sides. Excellent casting choices? Check. Romantic chemistry? Check. Sexy love scenes? In spades. Good mother/son drama? Check. And in the end – the biggest yardstick of all – do we give a crap? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
I got caught up in the story at times, though not without my share of groaning at the bad dialogue. Here’s a tip, if you’re going to have a whole sequence with someone reading out love letters, make sure you don’t try disguising the tackiness of it by having her do it while wearing a swimsuit by a pool, and don’t have the character writing the bad love letters supposedly be a writer by profession!
All this aside, Elena Undone ... well...undoes itself through pure melodrama. Elena (Necar Zadegan from 24) is a preacher’s wife in a small town who can’t quite figure out why she’s unhappy with her life. Peyton (Traci Dinwiddie - Supernatural fans would recognise her anywhere) is an unlucky in love lesbian, distraught over the recent death of her mother. The two women meet by chance (but, according to the film, there are no accidents, only fate), and for Peyton the attraction is instant.
Elena takes a bit more time to come around, but her process of doing that is where the film’s dramatic tension lies. The sexual tension builds, and builds, and builds, until it all comes tumbling out in what has to be one of the most glorious kisses ever put on film (damn you Nicole Conn! Why couldn’t that kiss have been in a really good movie?)
Elena has a 15 year old son, Nash, who finds out about her affair. He’s more upset with the betrayal than the lesbianism, which is a plot point to be applauded. Little by little things unravel in Elena’s life, and she’s forced to make some hard choices. These choices are the real, distraught choices that women all over the world have had to make who come out later in life with children in the picture. I'm glad at least that the movie does not present this as an easy, or fast, process.
In terms of the actors, the supporting cast does well with the material they have, but none are better than Connor Kramme as the young Nash. He’s freespirited but emotional and easily shaken. In the end however, he understands love probably more than the supposedly "grown-up" adults around him.
The film is apparently based in part on Nicole Conn's own life. I hate to say it, but even if the weirder aspects of this film are true to life, it doesn't necessarily make for a great viewing experience. In the end what we have here is a wildly uneven, infuriatingly distracting, fragmented story about a woman who deserves to be cared about, and a story that has an important message hidden in there somewhere about recognising who you are and not sleepwalking through your life.
Remove the melodrama, the unnecessary film within a film, the “I just want a baby” stuff, and the cartoon-like representation of the religious beliefs that good people all over the world struggle with (there's just no excuse for that crap any more). Focus on the simple story of a woman torn between love and family duty. If you did that, you might have yourself a decent film here. I will admit that at least half a star of my rating here is based on the love scenes, simply because they were beautiful, and the actresses deserve absolute kudos for putting themselves out there, and showing such commitment in the service of this story.
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See the film's website at: www.soulkissfilms.com