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What makes A Perfect Ending…

What makes A Perfect Ending…

Jessica Clark and Barbara Niven in A Perfect Ending

Imagine you had a less than perfect sex life (go on, try)… in fact imagine you were living a life that felt completely devoid of passion. Now imagine you had some concerned friends who wanted to find a way to help - and did so by setting you up with a totally gorgeous, sexy, intelligent, young… hooker.

What feelings might it provoke in you? Fear, horror, excitement, anxiety, shame, desire… would it give you a buzz – and would you go through with it? It’s an extraordinary and intriguing question.. and it’s the central time in A Perfect Ending. Has that peaked your interest….? It certainly did mine. 

A Perfect Ending - Scenes from the Movie
Scenes from A Perfect Ending

Rebecca is a middle aged, wealthy, but utterly repressed and depressed housewife (played by actress Barbara Niven), who is dedicated to her coldly bombastic husband (the excellent John Heard) and her three now grown children. And she has a secret. Or maybe more than one. During a frank discussion with two close friends (Shirin, played by the wonderful Mary Jane Wells and Kelly, Imelda Corcoran), she reveals something that they are horrified to hear about her sex life – and they are determined to help her resolve. They perceive that Rebecca’s dilemma may be as a result of her straight and straightened relationship with her husband, so they decide to engage the personal services of a high class prostitute, reasoning that another female will be “so much more familiar with the manual” and be able to offer her some… release.. Filled with trepidation but at the same time compelled, Rebecca agrees and turns up at the appointed time in a luxury hotel room to meet her… date. And so we are introduced to the delectable and sultry Paris (played superbly by British actress and model Jessica Clark in her first feature) who knocks on the door at the appointed time to meet her new customer. But though Paris would seem to have the looks and charm to melt even the frostiest of “clients”,  she hasn’t reckoned with the more than just tight lipped, Rebecca.

Elaine Sturgess and Barbara Niven at the premier of A Perfect Ending
With Barbara Niven at the premier of A Perfect Ending

As the two dance around each other, their stories are revealed, told with humour and pathos, with honesty and compassion, A Perfect Ending is multi-layered and addresses significant and pervasive issues that seriously affect the lives of millions of women - it manages to be both hugely entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. The leads have good chemistry and the sex scenes, which are intimately revealing, require a level of brave vulnerability that most of us could never even consider, but which are an essential element in showcasing the beauty of imperfection, the poignant antithesis of the movie’s title. Aside from the magnificently elegant performances of Niven and Clark, there are also some superb cameo roles, particularly from Morgan Fairchild as the tough and edgily funny Madam - with a peculiar obsession with Barbie dolls that she dresses up to resemble the characters of her “girls” – and the older, hardened hooker played with sarcastic brilliance by Rebecca Staab who can’t resist biting back when Rebecca rejects her with a judgementally driven tongue lashing.

It’s a story of many twists and turns that will surprise you as the plot unfolds – and it so cleverly explores, both metaphorically and in starkly frank big screen physical presence, the issues that so unnecessarily blight our lives and
often prevent us from fulfilling our potential and finding the pleasure that all of us deserve. I was privileged to watch the world premier of this movie at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco along with an audience of over 1400 whose appreciation was loudly and enthusiastically expressed throughout the film. If their – and my – reaction is anything to go by, it will make you laugh out loud, it might make you weep – and it will almost certainly make you think about it well after the movie itself has perfectly ended.

Who cares who’s kissing who? Elena Undone, A Love Story

Who cares who’s kissing who? Elena Undone, A Love Story

Elena Undone is the story of how a straight, church-going, married, mother, Elena (played by Necar Zadegan of TV’s 24) becomes attracted to a lesbian writer called Peyton (played by Traci Dinwiddie of Supernatural). They embark on an affair and fall hopelessly in love throwing their respective worlds into turmoil. Elena Undone is about the chance meeting of your soul-mate, whoever your soul-mate may be. It’s about the fact that people are attracted to - and fall in love with – people, no matter who they are. And it is about the struggle to be true to yourself in the face of anything that life might throw at you. It is a good old fashioned romance that just happens to be about two women. You should watch it. With chocolate.

Elena Undone on DVD, lesbian movie featuring Traci Dinwiddie and Necar Zadegan
Traci Dinwiddie and Necar Zadegan as Peyton and Elena in Elena Undone

Peyton is a successful writer who has recently lost her Mother and split up with her wife of 8 years. Though she is newly single, struggling with grief and at a low ebb, she is determined to pursue her desire to adopt a child and attends a meeting to find out more. Elena has been married to her pastor husband Barry, (who is also married to his church) for 15 years, they have a teenage son Nash and have unsuccessfully been trying for a second child for years. Elena is questioning her relationships both with her husband and the church. Perhaps feeling that another child might finally help to resolve some issues, she is also looking at the possibility of adoption. And so, at the adoption centre, the two randomly meet…

The main thread of the movie is then the relationship that develops between Peyton and Elena, charting the emotional journey they go through, attraction; longing, confusion, passion, guilt, doubt, despair as well as the objections and anguish they face with their families, friends and the church.  There’s great chemistry between Necar Zadegan and Traci Dinwiddie as the leads and all the central roles are engaging – including an excellent caricature of the church’s fervently homophobic financial backer, Millie, played with hilariously mean lips and equally mean spirit by Erin Carufel who has one of the best lines “She must be one of those…. I can’t even say the word…. lllllesbian. She’s going to hell!”.

Elena Undone scene from the movie in which Peyton passes Elena and turns to look back at her
Walk away or turn and face the consequences?

Elena's husband Barry is played by Gary Weeks (The Office, 24). He wants to save his marriage and his family, but will you have sympathy for him? Does he really he love his wife or is the marriage more of a convenience? Flashes of hypocrisy and anger raise questions about where his commitment lies. Peyton’s long term friend, played by the excellent British actress Mary Jane Wells, warns of the challenges that face her falling for a married woman and there’s also a narrative, presented by a “Love Guru” ( :-/ ??) who introduces cameo scenes of other soul-mates both straight and gay brought together by chance situations and over coming barriers to be together. It adds context although I did find it a bit distracting.

If you need any more reasons to watch it, well the two leads are hot in anybody’s language, the movie features the longest kiss in cinema history - and there’s some s.e.x… I guess for some, those three features sell the movie all on their own 😉

Traci Dinwiddie kisses Necar Zedagan in the movie Elena Undone
Who cares who's kissing who?

So why not disregard everything else and view this movie for what it is, an ode to lovers, to desire, to romance, to following your heart. And perhaps appreciate one of the most significant points that Elena Undone addresses; what a ridiculous waste of energy, time and resources homophobia really is. There’s a scene in the middle of the movie when Elena, realising how attracted she is to Peyton, tests the reactions of her son’s girlfriend Tori, by asking her whether she knows any gay girls in college. Tori, being a well balanced (for which read not homophobic ;)), if stats obsessed student, replies that during an average persons life, they spend less than a month kissing (seriously people, get your act together!!), “so really”, she says “who cares who’s kissing who?”.

Well, yes, exactly. From where I am right now, I can say with more clarity than ever before, that it really, truly doesn’t matter. It just matters that you’re kissing. It matters that you’re true to yourself. And it matters that you live every moment and love with every heartbeat. The End. Or The Beginning.