This image: Sarah Mitchell as Emily and Melissa DuPrey as Rosa

How to bake a successful modern rom com?  Put the girl in hot water, simmer her in a slob of ennui, gradually add the heat of some hot sex and serve with an alternatively romantic ending.  The chef’s secret technique here?  Balance the dominant spice with vanilla for the most palatable of delicious enjoyment.

Emily, you see, has a nasty addiction to cooking show marathons as she is parked unceremoniously on her friend’s sofa, out of luck in love, career and self-esteem.  TWO IN THE BUSH: A LOVE STORY is a fun and entertaining independent feature with clever messaging about love and the forms it can take and a discreetly expressed agenda of acceptance.

Emily, an aspiring documentary filmmaker, has her life fall apart pretty rapidly, and hilariously, at the beginning of this film and this is how she ends up immersed in the whole food addiction thing.  Intervention is needed and her old friend and ally, Rosa, the owner of said couch, arranges a receptionist job with a twist.  Emily will spread and solidify on the cookie sheet of love when she meets Nikki and Ben through this new job.

Directed by Laura Madalinski with a wry sense of humour, the beginning of the film has many laugh-out-loud moments and Sarah Mitchell who plays Emily has a quirky, deadpan exasperation that is very, very funny.  All through her “series of disappointments” she is endearingly awkward but her grown up Damascene recovery is believable and affecting.  The gentle insertion of the film’s only overtly political stance relies on our rooting for her here…cough.

Melissa DuPrey plays a cracker role as the wisecracking, loyal friend Rosa with empathy to burn and wicked way with tough love.  Caitlin Aase gives us a Nikki who is firstly, gorgeous, then, smart as fuck and finally, expansively loving and genuine.  This recipe is duplicated by a delightful performance from Travis Delgado as Ben.

As an independent feature, a well-made one, TWO IN THE BUSH: A LOVE STORY has a traditional way of telling the story.  There’s a very nice candle-and-wood amberness to the lovemaking scenes which are enhanced by the restrained and suggestive shot selection.  (Cinematographer: Robert Stockwell)  The script from Kelly Haas with Madalinski, also has a sequence of sexual mishaps which are perversely riotous through the pain.

The shot selections are unembellished but never short of interest however the audio recording does veer toward echoey ambient in places.  However Madalinski’s keen eye for character and interpersonal encounters gives the film an intriguing draw.  There is a dramatic three-way argument toward the end of the film which is just terrific filmmaking.  Madalinski and Editor Dianne Lee have created a superb few minutes with reps and close-ups and blur and waver to powerfully evoke the hurt of the well-meaning.  The film is more earnest about then but the characters are engaging and curiosity about its outcome really gets you in.

There might be a soupçon of soufflé about TWO IN THE BUSH: A LOVE STORY but it’s a tasty morsel baked with care and sprinkled with love in its many variety of flavours.   You can see the trailer here or find more at the film’s website and Facebook.

Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras FF runs February 13-28 and TWO IN THE BUSH: A LOVE STORY screens Friday Feb 22 8:30 pm, Event Cinemas George St.