Earlene (Ashleigh Sumner) meets introspective androgynous Bruno (Miles Szanto) after running away from her boyfriend and taking refuge on Venice Beach. The two strangers immediately hit it off and Earlene ends up spending the night at Bruno’s house. It soon transpires that Bruno doesn’t actually have anywhere to live and instead squats in empty house when their owners go away on vacation. After almost being caught, Bruno and Earlene find themselves on the run and decide to head to Vegas so Bruno can see the replica of the Eiffel Tower. Along the way they meet a variety of characters as well as learning new things about themselves.
Bruno and Earlene Go To Vegas is the feature debut of Simon Savory. Serving as both writer and director, Savory has crafted a road movie with friendship at its heart that delivers a quirky watch. Part of the charm of Bruno and Earlene comes from the ensemble around the two main characters. Sexually ambiguous drifter Billy (Barrett Crake), who ends up going along for the ride, is a character we would have liked to have seen more of, whilst Scottish duo Kyle (Antony Cherrie) and Brody (Ross William Wild) provide amusement as former strippers turned musicians whose dreams stalled when they found themselves in the Nevada Desert.
There are some issues with Bruno and Earlene. The story at times lacks cohesion and some of the characters are under-written meaning you don’t really get to grips with them. Perhaps the biggest central issue is the believability of Bruno and Earlene’s sudden friendship. Literally hours after meeting they interact as friends who have known each other for a longer period of time. It’s a bit of a leap but as long as you just accept it you can get carried away with the rest of the movie.
Ashleigh Sumner as Earlene and Miles Szanto as Bruno give strong performances. Both of their characters are conflicted in different ways but share similarities in that they feel like outsiders. Earlene harbours her own secrets and regrets whilst Bruno is so unsure of himself that he almost sells himself for money at the beginning of the movie. Sumner and Szanto work well together onscreen and it is their scenes that form the real crux of the film.
Bruno and Earlene is an admirable debut effort from Savory. Despite the film’s shoe-string budget the cinematography is absolutely stunning presenting a really polished result. On the whole the performances are strong and Savory gets the best out of his ensemble cast. We’re excited to see what he does next but would say a stronger focus on making a more cohesive story is crucial for his next endeavour.