Elle [trailer] from Nicole Vanden Broeck on Vimeo.
Nicole Vanden Broeck
Nicole Vanden Broeck, Asher Jelinsky
Having to lose close contact with a best friend is one thing, but losing a person you secretly have "romantic" feelings for - and never having acted on them can feel far worse. Especially for a person such as Elle, who has never really been an outgoing person, to begin with. "Elle" follows these two friends on their last day - and night together, and watching Elle struggle with her feelings for Samia was, for me, an emotional one, two, punch - and I'd gladly do it all again.
For me, a lazy way to describe this film would be to call it a coming of age story. Sure, it may paint the right picture but would leave a considerable portion of the canvas empty. For me, "Elle" is much more complex than a coming of age tale and more like a story of change. Stories of change can quickly become much deeper and emotional because changes are what fuels life. Change is the backbone of the classic coming of age yarn - and "Elle" makes sure that the audience can feel both Elle and Samia's hatred for change. Round that all off with regret and maybe even a little confusion, and you've summed up this story from writers Nicole Vanden Broeck and Asher Jelinsky quite nicely. There may be many layers to this short film, but never enough to take away from the main story. Elle and Samia. The short version of this write-up? I highly recommend it, even if you're not necessarily a fan of the genre.
From a production standpoint, Nicole Vanden Broeck directs a fabulous-looking short film. It's not flashy; it's not gimmicky; it's just what's needed to give it the desired effect. Great transitions and editing make "Elle" feel much quicker than the twenty minutes it actually is, and the starring and background cast all deliver realistic performances. What's not to like?
But perhaps even more interesting, to me at least, was that this film was never scared to push the envelope a little. One of the longer scenes, involving Elle and Samia sleeping on a couch, bordered on being outright creepy to me - and it's a scene that will stick in my head for some time, I imagine. The scene was creepy and awkward, and if you hadn't been watching the film from the start, it could have been taken the wrong way entirely. But isn't that what being a teenager is all about? Being creepy and awkward sometimes? It's all part of finding yourself, growing up, and attempting to gauge and deal with physical and mental changes - right? There's a lot of subtext happening within such a short film, and the end result is a smart, good-looking flick that is as engaging as it is entertaining.
At the end of the day, I think I've pretty much said what I want about this splendid short film. I'd obviously recommend it, but I am also curious about how others will react? How they will interpret this short story. I truly believe that not only does "Elle" deserve a four-and-a-half-star review... I think it's earned one. Well done.