Directed by Monika Petrillo Starring Caitlin Brandes, Michael Chandler Short Film Review by Evie Brudenall
Neglected housewives have often been the subject of stories in both film and television; affairs are a common remedy that the central characters’ resort to in an effort to reclaim their power, but in the case of Monika Petrillo’s short Wink, that tried and tested trope is retired and replaced by a much more peculiar invention.
Although their projection of bliss suggests otherwise, Melanie (Caitlin Brandes) and Gerald’s (Michael Chandler) marriage is not perfect. Gerald is a workaholic and Melanie is subsequently left to meander as she waits for her husband to become available. One day, she happens upon a bizarre solution to her dissatisfied and lonely nature.
Wink opens with beautiful imagery and jazz piano music, suggesting that we’re going to be transported to a time where what we now consider vintage was once the modern norm. However, the film is set very much in the modern day as Gerald is consumed by his electronic device, encumbered by stressful work commitments that demand his full attention. Melanie waits patiently for her husband to complete his duties so they can finally begin their anniversary celebrations and enjoy the romantic night that Melanie has thoughtfully planned. Much to her disappointment, Gerald falls asleep, still clutching his prized tablet and Melanie is left holding a wasted evening – and we get the feeling that this isn’t the first time it’s happened.
The more energy that Melanie puts into making her marriage the picture of perfection, the more glaringly obvious the cracks in their relationship become. Gerald does not seem to appreciate, or even notice, the effort that Melanie puts into making him happy and her growing sense of isolation is evident. As Gerald departs for work, Melanie commences her daily routine of pruning the rosebush, completing the ironing and putting away laundry in between taking a break while sipping out of a mug that reads, “Do more of what makes you happy.” The message here is about as subtle as a sledgehammer and the dialogue can be similarly accused of being too on-the-nose.
“Time for your weekly clean!” Melanie chimes as she carries a goldfish bowl into the bathroom and places her scaly friend into the bath. Melanie watches the fish swim contently (for what feels like a really long time) before having a peculiar idea that proceeds to lift her muted spirits. It’s at this point that the story begins to unravel and make little in the way of sense as Melanie’s act of “rebellion” or abnormal behaviour is not considered audacious enough to be the character’s turning point. The cinematography is crisp and pristine, echoing the visually flawless home that the characters share and the actors perform these stereotypical depictions of a distant husband and wife to the best of their ability.
Wink may have had some greater meaning or metaphorical undertones beneath the well-polished and technically executed surface, but the depth was lost on me and I emerged from the experience feeling perplexed and underwhelmed.