As a hopeless romantic, I instantly warmed to the connection made by Harry and Elizabeth Lawrence. Their stunning memoir It Had To Be Us took chances that traditional love stories don’t. For one, the characters come across as idiosyncratic and well developed. Also, there’s Misha Zubarev’s filmmaking sensibility in translating this narrative to the big screen. Collaborating with V. Ulea on script and direction, Cake: A Love Story reveals hope at the end of a long breakup.
Even though Harry (Richard Vernon) and Elizabeth (Debra Lord Cooke) have felt estranged, a chance encounter reignites the spark. Notably, the latter’s bashful demeanour around her ex proves charming thanks to Cooke’s natural screen soul. The camera treats her as a lived-in presence rather than a cipher remembering lines. In fact, her performance carries all kinds of awards potential despite the 26 minute running time. Perhaps the Academy could create new accolades for short films like their lengthier counterparts.
Equally, Richard Vernon imparts a free-wheeling spirit. At first, all that matters to Harry consists of golf and television. Yet such amenities blur into the background once love occupies his every waking thought. Here’s a man who cannot live without his soul mate. Thus, Harry and Elizabeth remind us how warm feelings endure. While hurtful things have been said and done, both parties feel remorseful. Incidentally, small gestures of kindness usher them back into each other’s arms.
Major plaudits belong to Misha Zubarev and V. Ulea for their film feels reinforced by craftsmanship. This shows in every scene, including the way dialogue, observation and responses coalesce. Also, I believe late cinematographer Gordon Willis would enjoy the gorgeous night-time views of New York City. These harken back to Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Truly, cameraman Trevor Peckham holds potential on tap waiting to be unearthed. The latter captures human faces and landscapes in gentle contrasts. Therefore, spontaneity arises from a natural milieu.
Lastly, some gentle, appropriate themes by composer Vad Chariton cement the narrative links. Above all, a song “Remember the Day” lingers fondly as something romantic, while reflecting positive energies based on the human condition.
Remembering the good times
Cake: A Love Story fit for rhymes.
Winning hearts anew
A tale told by two.
The way they were.
Admirable qualities from him and her.
Elizabeth and Harry share
Matters rugged even debonair.
Trailing lovers’ tears on moany moon
Hoping to see that special someone soon.
A love that seemed so far away
Found reason to stay.
(Cake: A Love Story is an Ariella Media production.)
Editor's Note: Cake: A Love Story won Best Short Film at the 2017 NSAEN International Film Festival. It also received an Award of Merit at IndieFest for its "notable artistic and technical production" and was a 2017 Official Selection of the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival.
Watch CAKE: A Love Story on Amazon Prime by clicking here.