Writer/director Monica Zanetti makes an astounding debut with this beautiful, coming-of-age romantic comedy about two teenage girls falling in love.
BONUS CONTENT: A pre-recorded interview with writer/director Monica Zanetti.
From the title alone, it’s obvious Ellie & Abbie (And Ellie’s Dead Aunt) will not be your standard rom-com. Instead, everything about it subverts the traditions of the genre: from the two female leads to the existence of a character that’s, well, dead. Sophie Hawkshaw plays 17-year-old Ellie, a model student who is trying to work up the courage to ask her crush, Abbie (Zoe Terakes), to the upcoming school formal after coming out to her mother (Marta Dusseldorp). Throwing a spanner in the works is the sudden appearance of her dead gay Aunt Tara (Julia Billington), whose dating advice is stuck firmly in the period which she died: the eighties. Featuring Rachel House and Bridie Connell in scene-stealing supporting roles, the eclectic cast helps bring to life a heart-warming and hilarious romance.
It’s clear Zanetti has an intimate understanding of the rom-com and because of that, is able to subvert the conventions of the genre and expand the type of story that can be told. The central romance is brought to life so effectively by Hawkshaw and Terakes that it’s impossible not to root for the romance at the core of the film, which are all enhanced by a clear and confident visual aesthetic. Yet like all of the best rom-coms, the love story is just the surface layer of the narrative. Among all the genuine laugh-out-loud moments and perfectly timed comedic beats, the fantastical element of a ghost relative is used as a vessel to talk about gay rights, grief, and family secrets as Ellie & Abbie (And Ellie’s Dead Aunt) explores how our past can also impact our present.
Writer and director Monica Zanetti sits down with ACMI Assistant Film Curator Maria Lewis to discuss the making of her unconventional Aussie rom-com.
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