Cinematic portraits of broken marriages and friendships are hardly original, but Kimistra Films' well-made Socks and Cakes, an ensemble dramedy about relationships written and directed by Antonio Padovan in the Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon) mold (with a touch of Woody Allen) does capture the petty rivalries, flirtations, and hypocrisies that infect relationships among gathered friends pretty well. It accomplishes its task thanks to some fantastic camera work, a swift pace, and pleasing performances from the entire ensemble.
Padovan's film takes a glimpse into the lives of five people during a dinner party in Greenwich Village. There's not much in the way of a plot here, which is fine because this is an actors-and-their-characters piece, and, to that extent, it's almost like a filmed play. A large portion of the film is told from the perspective of droll, egotistical French literature professor Harry Mogulevsky (Timothy J. Cox) as shown in a monologue performed by Cox directly to the camera a few minutes into the film.
Harry is a man alone who spends his free time trying to date his students and visit real estate properties that he never intends to buy. At first glance, you might peg Harry a "Debby Downer" of sorts. Not so. This is a man content with who and where he is and that contentment is enough for him to get by. He's free to do what he likes, feel whatever he wants to feel, and he relishes that freedom. The solitary life is the good life for him. The point is driven home by Harry himself when he states, "My mother really wanted to have twins and even then, I showed up alone." Some people function better alone and Harry is one of those people.
He's one of the guests at a dinner party hosted by best friend Richard, an architect (Jeff Moffitt) and Harry's ex-wife Amanda (Kirsty Meares), also an architect and a film director. Amanda is now married to Richard, but as we quickly find out, there's trouble in paradise, not helped by Richard's easily wandering eye and Amanda's self-doubts about where her life has and has not gone. Other guests include the always grinning and gloating real estate broker David (Ben Prayz) and his young, French girlfriend Sophie (Alex Vincent).
Richard develops eyes for Sophie almost immediately, while deep down, Harry still has eyes for Amanda, who herself seems to have eyes for nobody, even though she had an affair with David, whom Harry detests, a few months before. This is one heck of a crowd for a party. The red wine flows and then the party really starts. After dinner, Richard eventually makes a nonchalant pass at Sophie who doesn't quite know how to react, while Amanda reveals in a tearful speech to Harry that her marriage is falling apart, wishng that "she wanted Richard more than she needed him." Like in life, nothing is going to be resolved in one night. As I said, the film is just a glimpse into the lives of these people, people that we see every day on the streets, at parties, in the office, you name it. I can tell you this though, as the credits rolled, I knew that the future was going to be bleak for many of these characters.
Antonio Padovan's film is extremely well made, with a script that is an honest and truthful study of people who cannot communicate with each other and who cannot be honest with themselves. Thankfully, Padovan keeps the overall tone of the film from becoming too grim and manages to keep it light and breezy. He and his director of photography Alessandro Penazzi deserve high praise for some stellar camera work. Like in most of Woody Allen's best films (Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan… to name a couple), many of the scenes play out in continuous takes, with few cuts, zipping right along.
Adding to the film's success is the stellar and likable cast that Padovan has assembled, led by Timothy J. Cox's engaging turn as Harry. Cox is astounding in showing us glimpses into the hurt, confused soul of the man underneath a rather self-absorbed exterior. Kirsty Meares is also impressive in her frank and honest portrayal of Amanda, while Jeff Moffitt manages to charm as the cad husband Richard. Ben Prayz, as the sleek David, may have one of the flashiest grins I have seen in recent memory and Alex Vincent is solid as the wide-eyed, innocent Sophie.
If you're a fan of character pieces, Socks and Cakes may be worth checking out. Socks and Cakes is currently making its way around numerous film sites on the Internet. Please visit the film's official site.