Many of us have been in that situation; so broke and desperate for money that we would have taken any job offered to us. This is exactly what Julie Robert (no not the actress Julia Roberts but an actress none the less) does in MLE with highly amusing consequences.
MLE (My Little Eye) is written/directed and stars Sarah Warren as Julie, a struggling Canadian actress who comes to London for her ‘big break’ in Vampire Mermaids Go To Heaven. After the funding for this film is cut (not surprisingly) Julie runs over Bella, who later offers Julie the job of spying on her stepdaughter, Joy.
At the end of her bank balance and stolen fridge money Julie accepts the job and takes us down the rabbit hole into her often bizarre and comical world.
Julie is quirky and “not like the other girls” according to an early male conquest; she likes video games, cake, puppets and cake! Julie is instantly likeable and relatable and played with genuine charm and humour by Warren.
Underlying this spy-caper is a story of female friendship, from Julie’s solid friendship with Camilla- even though she perhaps doesn’t quite understand Julie’s quirks- to her finding a new friend in Joy, with whom she shares many interests.
The female friendships feel honest and it is refreshing to see these relationships explored in depth. It seems easy to describe all funny women as the next Lena Dunham, as a character refers to in the party scene but as Julie is quick to point out she is her own person and wants to make her own interesting stories.
Whilst I’m sure Warren has been inspired by a host of female and male comedians alike, I am not a fan of this instant pigeon holing of all funny women as Lena Dunham-like: MLE is very Sarah Warren-like.
The script is smart and funny with very truthful perceptions about British culture – the character often despairs “What’s wrong with this country!” after short encounters with the dregs of London’s male population. It is perhaps all the more funny as the film is very much based on true life events that happened in Warren’s own life as a working actress.
Despite the highly comedic tone of the film, it manages to also make astute observations on the misogyny prevalent in the film industry and within creative circles. Almost all of Julie’s encounters with men shine a stark, but also amusing light, on the way women are often belittled or expected to be a certain way in order to make it.
MLE is a delightfully funny and enjoyable movie that is made all the more enjoyable by the lead performance from Warren, which exudes warmth and delight – you are drawn into her life and wish to be part of it.
MLE is screening at The Ritzy in Brixton and The Hackney Picturehouse on October 4th