Mandahla Rose (left) and Julia Billington (right) in " All About E." Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video.

Mandahla Rose (left) and Julia Billington (right) in ” All About E.” Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video.

Looks can be deceiving. When we first lay eyes on Mandahla Rose as “E,” the sexy young DJ in Louise Wadley’s new lesbian caper film, All About E, she seems to have the world, or at least the beautiful dykes that hang out in one of Sydney’s hottest clubs, on a string. Clad in a tight-fitting matador’s costume, she spins the latest hits — and the crowd — for all it’s worth.

Unfortunately, life for our disco club darling isn’t as free-wheeling as it seems. Johnny Rock (Simon Bolton), the club’s owner, keeps her on a short rein for his own enjoyment, and her strict Lebanese parents would keep her on an even shorter one given half a chance. Even her roommate, Matt O’Halloran, a campy sidekick if there ever was one as played by Brett Rogers, can’t cheer her up. And girlfriend Trish (Julia Billington), her sweet, salt-of-the-earth partner, soon hightails it back to her ranch in the outback when she can’t seem to get “E” out of the closet.

Writer-director Wadley introduces a suspicious duffel bag of cash into our heroine’s hands just in time to get the plot moving. After all, as well-intentioned as it may be for the morose “E” to sit around in a roomful of music trophies, lamenting the clarinet she’s forsaken for the high life, the audience can only wait so long.

It’s at this juncture that Wadley steers her story onto the lazy highways and byways of the back country, as “E” and her erstwhile mate Matt take to the road. Justine Kerrigan’s cinematography deserves mention, as the yellow hills and wide open skies dazzle the eye and help to keep us focused on the pair’s predicament. When “E” takes a handy detour on their escape route in an attempt to reunite with Trish, we get a generous dose of resulting love play that can appear at times a bit gratuitous. But this may be splitting hairs. It is supposedly a lesbian suspense film, after all.

But where is the suspense? The see-saw pacing between the Sydney club owner and his cohorts as well as the meandering Dee and her companion is a bit disjointed. By the time Johnny picks up the scent of the trail, he seems exhausted from the effort and not much of an adversary.

What is All About E about anyway? Is it a coming out story for the LGBT set, a two-for-the-road chase with the bad guys in lukewarm pursuit, or a lesbian love story in Australian style? One thing’s for sure: It’s a cleverly ambitious undertaking for our director, and if she gets it only half right here, there’s sure to be plenty of followers the second time around.

Rating: C

Video courtesy of Wolfe Video.

For more information about the film, you can visit “All About E’s” official Facebook page.