“I thought we were going to be six for dinner?”
Writer/director Antonio Padovan‘s short film Socks and Cakes plays like an intriguing treatment for a piece much grander in scope. Shades of early Woody Allen come through from the stark white on black opening credits and Greenwich Village setting while the loquacious dinner settings of The Big Chill mix in with similar character breakdowns waxing on about their first world problems through quasi-pithy insight. There is past history and unavoidable neuroses existing between them all with varying degrees of like and dislike hard to hide or see considering the vain bunch is more interested in talking about themselves.
But what begins promising and continues towards the inevitable revelations of extramarital affairs and lack of sexual desire for some reason just ends. It literally shuts off after the juiciest—albeit unsurprising—proposition devoid of warning or resolution. The film becomes a meandering slice of life drama without goal or endgame, introducing characters possessed by the potential for evolution and yet never proving more than vessels for dialogue. Padovan even decides to infuse a brief interlude of fourth wall breaking that infers Timothy J. Cox‘s Harry will be our main focal point, a maneuver rendered baseless once Kirsty Meares‘ Amanda steals the spotlight due to her past including a relationship with each man in the room.
And this is why I say Socks and Cakes could be a style sheet for tone and idea of a more ambitious project. Perhaps Padovan has more to say and decided to shoot this short as a way to find financial banking so his full vision could arrive onscreen. Or maybe it is what it is and I’ve simply missed the boat. It’s a great starting point that could excel with its humor and odd pairings of acquaintances harboring judgment against each other as well as a waning belief in their own actions. The lie of the American Dream is on display as the false allure of New York City fades into the hard life of unfulfilled fantasy, but satire of the bourgeoisie only goes so far without an over-arching plan to complement its generalized message.
The film does have a few nice visual flourishes of the camera—panning along a kitchen counter or looking down the dining room table to show all five actors—and there is a well-placed sense of entitlement in the air as they vent about love, life, and psychological shortcomings over a glass of wine and lamb. Alex Vincent‘s Sophie recalls Meg Tilly‘s Chloe from the aforementioned Big Chill with her oversized sweater; Cox adds a light touch, resembling Alan Tudyk with a perpetual look of embarrassed disgust; and Meares carries her monologue through an authentic emotional storm to become the short’s showcase. It’s just sad all this good work ends in a clumsy solicitation of sex that fades to black exactly when this volatile combination of egos could easily explode.
Watch it for yourself on YouTube: Socks and Cakes.