Wendy works as a maid at a hotel located by an airport, but she uses her job to gain access to rooms where she can spot planes, taking close note of their makes and model numbers.
Sidd is her co-worker who nurses an affection for Wendy, but can’t seem to get past her strange fixation in order to make a romantic connection with her. He accompanies her on a planespotting session but Wendy remains impervious to Sidd’s affections.
But even that inattention doesn’t deter Sidd, who decides Wendy is the woman of his dreams. But when he gets too close, Wendy pushes him away. Undeterred, Sidd forges ahead to win Wendy’s affections, only to discover a secret that may challenge his romantically-tinged perception of his potential love.
Director Dan Castella, along with writer Christian Sandino-Taylor and producer Lewis Partovi, has crafted an offbeat short romance between two strange souls who bond over their eccentricities and oddities, overcoming their own reticence and wariness to intimacy in the process.
Stylishly shot with pops and daubs of color within drab countryside and corporatized airports and hotels, the story is a straightforward romance in structure — two characters have a spark, encounter mostly internal obstacles to romance but come to a rapport that leads to the next stage of intimacy. But it’s executed with great panache, an ear and eye for ironic wit and a rhythm that fizzles, pops and percolates like a great indie pop song.
In its short 11-minute runtime, the film manages to juggle many distinctive formal elements. The stylish visuals bring to mind elements of early Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson, and like those filmmakers, the dialogue and performances can be both highly stylized and studied, though there is always the pull of difficult emotions underneath them. Actors Amit Shah and Monserrate Lombard, who play Sidd and Wendy respectively, find that balance between playful irony and sincere feeling, and carry off some wonderfully absurd dialogue with aplomb and tenderness.
All the elements come together with terrific brio, and the story knows just when to offer an unvarnished moment of vulnerability that pulls Sidd and viewers in with rawness. Wendy lets her guard down, and Sidd must decide whether or not he can love the real Wendy underneath the eccentric exterior.
Funded by Film London and British Film Institute, “To Wendy Who Kicked Me When I Said I Love You” openly brandishes its quirk and spark, but underneath its offbeat flourishes, it is a sweet, charming love story about cherishing someone’s oddball tendencies and recognizing that sometimes thorniness is a way of protecting one’s self from judgment or shame. The final scene is almost hilariously operatic in laying out one’s oddities and pain points for another to look at — but such openness requires bravery to reveal, and tenderness to witness. With both on the table, two strange and lost souls can finally come together.
Director: Dan Castella; Producer: Lewis Partovi; Writer: Christian Sandino Taylor; Cinematographer: David Pimm; Production Designer: Kat Hawker; Cast: Amit Shah and Montserrat Lombard; Funded by Film London and British Film Institute.