Elle’s passion is to dance. She takes free classes after school because dance stopped being part of her school’s curriculum, and hopes to be noticed by a talent scout from a prestigious dance school – but when she starts suffering from heavy memory loss, her self-confidence starts crumbling down.
Written and directed by Florence Winter Hill, who is just 19 years-old, (with co-writer Peter Vaughan), Elle is a beautiful story of passion in face of obstacles.
Not only is it about a protagonist (played by Isabelle Allen, already seen as young Cosette in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables), driven by her passion from a very young age, who has to now face an unpredictable disability that might prevent her from achieving her dreams, it is also about confronting one’s doubts and fears, as well as our society’s and schools’ lack of interest for arts compared to sciences.
Elle’s memory fading away is in that way not unlike the arts fading away from schools and becoming less and less accessible – as her dance teacher subtly tells Elle, the free classes she takes won’t last for long, and once they’ll be over Elle will have nowhere to turn to to continue her passion.
Every actor in this short movie is convincing and offer a range of characters that, although they don’t grace the screen for long, feel like they have a lot more to tell.
The directing and photography – complimented by a wonderful soundtrack by Giuseppe Alfano – is also excellent, especially as the movie brings us into Elle’s psyche, making her (and us) move into her memories in a wonderful sequence that brings us closer to the character and to her passion.
Much of the ending is up to interpretation: are we still stuck inside Elle’s psyche & crumbling memories, or is it the real thing? Will she be able to dance correctly despite her condition, or is she doomed to fail?
While the movie doesn’t give any answer, passion is really what this is all about, and what could be seen as the answer to everything.
While Elle starts to forget the exact moves she has to do, or how to tie up her lace-up ballet shoes, her passion is still intact inside of her; and after all, planned moves and ballet shoes are only an artifice surrounding this driving force.
Elle is a wonderful short film, well-made and well-acted, that is definitely worth a watch.