Based on a story by the late writer and director Victor Vicas (The Wayward Bus, 1957) and his wife, Li Erben, Wink tells the story of a neglected housewife, who following an extremely tame anniversary decides to slip into the bath with her goldfish, which then slips into… well you get the idea.
Written and Directed by Monika Petrillo, the short film very convincingly sets up the notion that the main character Melanie, a housewife in young middle-age, is living an existence of quiet despair. Her husband is of the bog-standard, successful, well-groomed variety, who would rather spend his evenings fingering his iPad then fingering… well you get the idea. This is especially well conveyed during a breakfast scene following their damp squib of an anniversary. No words are spoken, but spoons gently tap the inside of glasses of tea, and knives scrape toast. In other words, the sounds of dull domesticity. When the meal is over he simply says ‘perfect’ and leaves. His wife is nothing to him but another pleasant ornament in his house and to his life. All of this is delivered with impressive nuance.
Melanie then gets on with her usual routine of cleaning the house, except that when she puts the goldfish in the bath she decides to get in with it. This is a fun, cheeky idea, but it also has hidden depths. At least as deep as a nice, warm, fish inhabited bath. One could say that she feels very much like a goldfish herself. She is trapped in a comfortable, meaningless life of routine, and is little more than something to stay in the house, be quiet, add to the harmony of the place and occasionally be looked at. The film could also be saying that her husband is so hopeless a lover, despite his tidy hair and business success, that even a goldfish is a better alternative.
Wink is a good looking short, with fine cinematography by Stephan Dalyai, who makes Melanie’s house look, bright, white, airy and as dull as a clinic waiting room. While Petrillo directs with real poise. The cast are fine too. Caitlin Brandes makes for a perfect housewife, with a heart that throbs, while Michael Chandler as her husband Gerald is smug, bland, and just the kind of good guy that we’re supposed to aspire to be, which is exactly what the role requires.
Men, watch Wink and don’t be that guy.