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Elenya Review

Image for Elenya
★★★★★

In the early 90s the British Film Institute specialised in releasing a string of period tales of loneliness set in remote corners of the British Isles, and following on from Venus Peter, On The Black Hill and December Bride comes Elenya, the sad little tale of a girl growing up in Wales during World War II.

Abandoned by her Italian mother, Elenya lives with her mean-spirited aunt and, ostracised by the other children, leads a solitary existence roaming the woods, until one day she discovers a wounded German airman dangling from his parachute. Nursing him back to health, she hides him in a ruined cottage, but inevitably she can't keep his presence a secret forever. Thanks to a self-possessed central performance from 12-year-old Pascale Delafouge Jones, this succeeds in sketching a fragile relationship between the two stranded individuals who can barely communicate.

Unfortunately the delicate mood of childhood mystery is continually interrupted by pointless scenes of Elenya as an old woman travelling back to Wales and explaining the action in a letter to someone whose identity is never revealed. The credits indicate some post-production tampering with the editing - attributed to that old industry pseudonym Alan Smithee - and this certainly has that chopped-around look, with interesting hints left dangling like the airman, and the lone, climactic piece of action so fluffed that you aren't too sure exactly what happened.