Sullivan works at the coat check of a museum, where he has faithfully attended to his job for the past few years. He knows the regular museum visitors well, even taking the time to repair their coats during their visits — a skill he picked up from his tailor father.
One day, a new visitor named Mandel comes to visit. She is a Ph.D. student in town for a limited time to research her dissertation. When she hands him her worn vintage coat — the price tag still stuck in the collar — the pair have instant chemistry. But they also have another surprising connection in common, though neither seems brave enough to make the first move… even as Mandel’s time at the museum is coming to an end.
Written and directed by Rebecca Manley, this tenderhearted short romantic drama is about the magic of connection and love, found in unlikely places and made over unlikely connections. Though the story is set in London in the 1990s, its mellow, golden-toned cinematography and elegant eye impart a timelessness that matches its rich, eternally resonant themes.
Sullivan is a quiet, thoughtful character, and the film’s storytelling takes on his characteristics, with a measured, precise construction of the plot and characters. Like Sullivan, there is nothing superfluous in the plot, with only the most essential details about character and circumstance included in the writing. But they are woven with great care, making for an absorbing narrative.
Actors Miles Yekinni and Sophie Harkness, as Sullivan and Mandel, richly embody their characters with great appeal. Their interaction captures the back-and-forth of instant intrigue and chemistry, with an inherent sweetness to their shared shyness. As their mutual fascination grows, it’s easy to get wrapped up and invested in their budding romance and root for them as they inch together. But as Mandel’s research stint at the museum wraps up, they either must act on their mutual connection or miss losing it altogether.
Nostalgic, beautifully crafted and engrossing, “Of Thread and Almonds” has another trick up its sleeve. Just as viewers think they’re in for a straightforward romance, the ending reveals another dimension of Sullivan and Mandel’s connection. Those hoping for a more conventional ending may be disappointed, but the twist that unravels is just as heartwarming, embracing and tender in its evocation of an undying, enduring love. Love is something that traverses eras, cultures and even death, even connecting us in unusual, unexpected ways that bring magic to everyday life.