All About E

Year: 2015
Production Co: Girls' Own Pictures
Director: Louise Wadley
Writer: Louise Wadley
Cast: Mandahla Rose, Brett Rogers, Julia Billington

There was a time when any commercial thriller set in Australia made by Australian filmmakers was a cause for celebration in an industry that was notorious for churning out one politically correct coming of age story set in the outback after another.

Back when a barely known Russell Crowe starred in Heaven's Burning or Frances O'Connor in Kiss or Kill (both in the late 90s), Australian crime thrillers were hardly a blip on the cultural radar.

Fast forward a dozen or so years and the reverse is true – after a number of great films in the genre made on Australian shores (Gettin' Square, Chopper, The Square, Animal Kingdom, Alexandra's Project), any new movie has to do something special to stand out.

All About E certainly tries. It has a strong social theme with hero E (Mandahla Rose) being a gay woman living in a very contemporary society in gay-friendly Sydney after hailing from the comparatively less tolerant Wollongong to very conservative Lebanese parents – great to see legendary Aussie actor Lex Marinos (Kingswood Country's Bruno) in a movie again for the first time in about 20 years.

But despite the very thematic backdrop, writer/director Louise Wadley has tried to make All About E a rip-roaring genre piece. E is a successful nightclub DJ living with her best friend, the excessively camp Irishman Matt, and when she comes across a bag of money she doesn't realise belongs to her creepy boss Johnny (Simon Bolton), they decide to hightail it out of Sydney in search of a new life.

But Johnny is connected to a drug deal he needs the money for, and he'll stop at nothing to get it back, dispatching his scary thugs after E and Matt and eventually following them into the bush himself.

E is headed to the farm owned by her former lover Trish (Julia Billngton), the subject of a heartbreaking split we see in a few flashbacks scattered throughout the story.

There aren't as many thrills or action as you'd probably like – more a sense of intrigue and danger that builds slowly as Johnny closes in on E and Matt – but that might be budgetary more than anything.

Wadley has a good eye and Rose is a good lead. She gets a bit more screen time than she's perhaps completely comfortable with as the performance stumbles once or twice, but everyone takes the script seriously and gives it everything they've got.

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