Emily has come to surprise her boyfriend Robbie as he takes up his usual spot, busking on the pier. It's a pleasant surprise, and the pair amble along the pier, exploring the arcades and treats as they talk. They're at a wonderful point in their relationship, where they are both perfectly comfortable with one another but also find one another exciting and special.
Perhaps under the spell of a perfect day, the free-spirited Robbie asks Emily to move in with him. Emily is thrilled, but as they talk and imagine their lives together, the conversation reveals they each have a very different idea of what their future looks like -- and what began as a perfectly romantic afternoon leads to a quiet reckoning of their relationship's durability in the face of such different temperaments and goals.
Written and directed by Reece Lipman, this pleasantly ambling, thoughtful short romance has the look and feel of two lovers lost in their own pleasant bubble. Lost in one another's presence, there's a sense of relaxation and enjoyment that unfurls as Robbie and Emily enjoy their excursion together. This pleasant atmosphere is painted by the drifting, serene cinematography, capturing the postcard-pretty boardwalk amusements and the clean, fresh light of seaside light. The leisurely tempos of the editing also give us plenty of room to get to know Robbie and Emily as they waft along the pier.
At first the couple banter in the way that besotted lovers do, but as they begin to talk more deeply about their families, backgrounds and worldviews, the conversation takes a more contemplative turn. Actors Jamael Westman and Anita-Joy Uwajeh are beautifully connected to one another, portraying the harmony of a pair of soulmates and the joy they take in one another's company.
Sympathetic, earnest and warm as a couple, it's easy to root for them as a pair. But it almost makes it more heart-breaking -- for them and for viewers -- when they stumble upon some deep differences and expectations for the future. They want different things when it comes to their lives, and though they love and adore one another -- and would love to have a future together -- that may not be possible.
Heartfelt, sincere and beautifully made, "Ice Cream and Doughnuts" compels because it is so recognizable in its portrayal of two people at a precipice in life. In their late 20s, they have truly become adults, with all the self-knowledge that being a grown-up confers. They know enough of themselves to know what they truly desire in life. But that self-knowledge is also a double-edged sword, for it also helps them to realize that as much as they love one another, Robbie and Emily may not have a compatible future together. They want different things for themselves -- a heartbreaking realization made all the more poignant for its wisdom.