Elena Undone opens with a hazy, slow motion shot of two women walking towards each other. A voiceover dreamily states “In love, one and one are … one. Seldom do we get to experience the art in love.” It goes on to reference Emily Bronte and the scene reveals that we’ve actually been listening to a church sermon (a not-so-subtle transition to a stained glass window is our first hint).
From here, we meet Elena (Necar Zadegan), a beautiful, soft-spoken woman. She’s married to the preacher (Barry, played by Gary Weeks), and they’re trying for another child, a subject that Mr. Preacher seems much more keen on than Elena. She’s accosted by a cartoonish gaggle of churchgoers for not attending an anti-gay marriage protest, and she seeks comfort in the arms of Tyler (Sam Harris), a sort of love guru who makes films about “soulemetry” and stages events to help people find their soulmates. Yes, really.
Peyton, (Traci Dinwiddie) our other lovely lead, is a lesbian novelist who has just lost her mother. Her quirky friend, Wave (Mary Wells) comforts her with bottles of wine and an arm-twisting trip to the love guru, where she sees Elena for the second time (their first meeting being at an adoption orientation – both are looking to add a baby to their lives). They immediately hit it off and have a lovely, sparkling chemistry from the get go.
Sitting down to drinks on a candlelit porch, Peyton comes out to Elena. Immediately (and, realistically), Elena goes overboard trying to show her support, insisting that she’s comfortable with her new friend and that she voted “the right way” on proposition 8. It’s one of the best scenes in the film – candid, funny, and slightly awkward, it feels very “real”.
Almost inevitably, Peyton and Elena start hanging out – under the pretenses of working together professionally, as a writer and photographer. They have meetings, go on picnics (with a smirking Tyler accompaning them), drink wine and talk about love. All the while, the sexual tension builds and builds as our clueless heroines smile and giggle through their scenes.
In one such sequence, Elena offers to do a little photo shoot for Peyton’s next book. They flirt – timidly at first. Then a heavy bass line winds its way into the soundtrack, and it’s obvious to both of them that there’s a real attraction here. Understandably, this freaks Elena out a bit, but not enough to prevent her from seeing her would-be lover.