Eloïse

Eloïse

*****

Reviewed by: Caro Ness

This film left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand I believe it is one of the best explorations of a lesbian awakening that I have ever seen and on the other felt frustrated because there still seems the need to cast homophobic stereotypes.

It opens with young, beautiful architectural student Asia (Diana Gómez) lying in a coma in hospital with her mother (Laura Coneiero) and boyfriend Nathaniel (Bernatt Saumeil) keeping watch by her bedside. The events that led up to the accident which put her there are revealed in flashback, as well as the characters who people her journey.

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Initially, Asia is having a somewhat passionless affair with Nathaniel when her curiosity is piqued by Erika (Carolina Montoya) and Norah’s (Miranda Makaroff) homophobic response to their fellow art student, the enigmatic Eloise (Ariadna Cabrol). This is the only jarring note. It is so out of order and, yes, there are people who think the way these girls do but I am not convinced it would be quite so overt and voluble. The director could have created the same amount of distaste by conveying their ignorance and lack of understanding. When it comes to the mother’s reaction to her daughter’s relationship with Eloise later in the film, it is handled with far more finesse.

Asia reads an advertisement for an artist’s model and, wanting to introduce something spontaneous and different into her life, goes along to find out more. She discovers that it is Eloise who wants a model and so decides that she will pose for her.

A close relationship develops, with Asia slowly falling under Eloise’s infectious spell. Eloise asks Asia to pose nude for her, which escalates the sexual tension between them. Meanwhile, Asia continues her liaison with Nathaniel, who has been welcomed into the family. When Asia’s mother goes away and Nathaniel falls ill, she and Eloise spend their days together and, for the first time, begin to experience genuine emotion and feelings. Inevitably, one thing leads to another, and they end up in bed. In the morning, Asia is horrified and does not know how to deal with her awakened emotions. She blanks Eloise with gawky embarrassment and awkwardness.

Asia’s mother returns and finds a nude sketch of Asia in her room and so determines to eliminate Eloise from her daughter’s life, suspecting that she has seduced her. She invites Eloise over and tells her to leave her daughter alone, to which Eloise replies that she needs to think of her happiness. Asia arrives home with Nathaniel and overhears, so chases after Eloise, and in turn is chased by Nathaniel, and is hit by a car, which brings us back to the hospital, where the film begins.

Cinematographer Carlos Cases lavishes attention upon the beautiful Asia and Eloise. In particular he lingers lovingly over Asia’s face, capturing every nuance and emotion. And the protagonists play their parts to perfection. Nathaniel is the ideal prospective son-in-law, while Eloise is wild and enigmatic, but it is Asia, played with true conviction by Gómez, who steals the show. She is a revelation, conveying just the right amount of pent up feeling and confusion.

Brilliant!

Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2010
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Lesbian awakenings in the student art world
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