Andrew and Shannon are a couple living in suburban Melbourne. Shannon cooks dinner while indulging in raunchy talk online with a seductive stranger. Andrew is taking a bath, wrapped in Christmas lights and clearly in crisis. Both people seem to be living separate lives, right in the same home.
But when things don’t go as planned for Andrew — and the snafu also gets in the way of Shannon’s own directives — the two are forced to come out of their bubbles and come together.
Writer-director Yianni Warnock’s short film is filmed much like a drama full of excellent craftsmanship, with elegant, restrained camerawork and cinematography, performances that are grounded in emotional truth and suffering and a full orchestral score underpinning the most dramatic moments of the narrative.
Yet the short is also undeniably funny, with the complex, ironic writing finding its humor initially in the juxtaposition of urgent, deep existential suffering with the quotidian boredom of everyday suburban life. The opening scene sets the tone, as Shannon prepares dinner, all while talking to her sexy online stranger. The two tasks couldn’t be more different, and yet Shannon approaches both with the same harried, preoccupied efficiency, trying to squeeze a bit of sexiness into the busyness of dinner hour. Beyond its humor, the scene says so much about who Shannon is and the life she lives — or doesn’t live, as the case may be — with Andrew.
Meanwhile, in a parallel narrative thread well-handled with deft cross-cutting and editing, Andrew is trying to electrocute himself in the bathtub. Yet this task proves unexpectedly difficult, and the scene shifts into understated yet undeniable dark comedy as he struggles.
The humor comes close to farce, but it never falls into overexaggeration or a sense of the antic. Like the rest of the film, it remains grounded in the terrible pain created by alienation and disconnection, all while pinpointing the absurdities of modern human life that likely got us there in the first place.
It’s an absurdity that prevents Andrew from completing his sad, terrible act, propelling the two characters in “Homebodies” into an interaction that is a marvel of tone, direction and performance. It encapsulates the distance between two people who once loved one another and share a life together but not much else, and it forms the sophisticated punchline to the film’s overarching scenario.
But it’s also strangely haunting as a final note of despair, ennui and loneliness — and a perfect illustration of the idea that nothing can make you feel lonelier than being unseen or unheard by another human being, especially one who is supposed to love and care about you.