Cute is the first word that pops in my mind after watching Timothy Reckart‘s Head Over Heels. It’s a term containing positive and negative connotations, both of which are included in this story about an elderly married couple that has drifted apart. And I don’t mean metaphorically—they’ve literally separated to the point where Walter (Nigel Anthony) roams their home on the floor as Madge (Ruth Rayyah McCaul resides on the ceiling in a mirrored gravitational pull. They may have been “head over heels” in love when the sweet photo hanging on their wall was shot, but now the endearing phrase no longer holds mere flowery prose.
Built in a rough Claymation where the creases in each bent limb are seen, there is a muddy quality to their features and the world they inhabit. Life has turned them surly and impatient, a misplaced wrench amongst Madge’s shoe collection getting thrown to ground level without a care about whether it would hit Walter or not on its way. He spins the aforementioned photograph around its nail to live on his half of the house before she twirls it back. He slides the fridge down for food while she tugs it back up. Neither talks as they go about their daily routine, each trying their best to pretend the other doesn’t exist until a spark of recollection reignites the potential for rekindling.
An effective and perhaps overly schmaltzy parable about compromise and our ease at dismissing it for selfish desires, Walter and Madge’s home flips in mid-air as their mutual indifference holds them in suspension. This equilibrium is only lost after he discovers something of hers from the past to be repaired and shared as a gift. It’s an action so out of character that they plummet back to Earth inverted and fractured even more than before.
Trust must be regained slowly as the coldness years apart have cultivated thaws to conjure memories of a much happier time. We like to believe true love endures, assuming so implicitly. The truth of the matter, however, is that a lot of work is necessary. It only seems the opposite due to the overwhelming warmth felt as a result. Easy to forget how you lost it in the first place once it takes you back over, it’s even easier to realize you never want to lose it again.