After running away from a situation she cannot handle, Earlene finds herself at Venice Beach where she meets and soon becomes close to Bruno, a lost and wandering intersex skater. Together, they head into the desert to find themselves. Their search brings them to a sexually confused thief, a tap-dancing drag queen, a Scottish boyband and many other kindred souls, all drawn to a place where they can escape the world that seemingly has no place for them.
A micro-budget road movie, Bruno and Earlene never feels cheap – there’s an attention to detail in every scene that would easily compare to bigger-budget productions. This is as much a story about the relationships the characters have with themselves as it is about the relationships they have with each other. All of the characters are so three-dimensional that by the end of the movie the viewer is tempted to go and look for each of them, and spend time in their worlds.
Bruno and Earlene addresses issues of gender, identity and companionship in ways that feel real and tender, almost raw at times, through a cast that, though beautiful, at no point feel shallow or superficial; they each have their demons, and each battles in their own way as the story unfolds.
Slickly paced, the characters unfold with the story, always moving but never hurrying through their development. Ashleigh Sumner is utterly convincing as Earlene, and Miles Szanto’s troubled Bruno is so spot on there are moments throughout when you’ll want to reach out and give him a hug. While the script is at times slightly clunky, this incredibly strong cast bring such life to their characters that it really doesn’t matter.
Overall Verdict: Beautifully shot and with a narrative crescendo containing shades of Thelma and Louise, Reservoir Dogs and even The Italian Job, this is a clever, thoughtful film that brings issues around gender, sexuality and identity to the fore in gentle and sometimes quite subtle ways, leaving the viewer thinking and asking questions.
Reviewer: Scott Elliott