1964. Joe's seemingly ordinary day takes a bad turn, as he comes home to find out that his wife hasn't been cooking dinner. And there's a very good reason for that.
American suburbs, 1964. An ordinary day in the life of an ordinary man. Joe, our protagonist, comes home from work, and everything seems to be perfectly normal in the idyllic suburbia where he lives: the spotless cars, the pastel-colored houses, the well-pruned hedges, everything is in the right place. Upon his return, however, his life will change forever: the dinner is not ready, and his wife is not willing to prepare it, now or ever again. The woman in front of him looks exactly like his loving Betty, but something changed. The reality of things will be impossible to accept, but Joe won’t have many alternatives.
The careful reconstruction of every detail of the 60s domestic life is impeccable: the costumes, the interior decor, even the acting register, very reminiscent of the time’s sit-coms – nothing is out of place, it’s all very credible and immediately plunges us into the apparent perfection of the American way of life.
If the story and setting are reminiscent of films like The Stepford Wives and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the general tone of the short reminds, more than anything else, of that of The Twilight Zone. The things left unsaid, the inclusion of alienating and sinister elements in an apparent everyday life, the open ending, are all key elements of the great sci-fi series, which is to find pleasure in this work, at a time in which the genre seems to have lost the taste for subtlety.
Actually, the references to 60s television 60 are not only structural, but also explicit, with the clever inclusion of The Plot Thickens’ pilot, a tv crime and mystery show in which participants had to solve a murder case. The meta-filmic links between the almost-monologue of the wife and some sentences coming from the tv are one of the most interesting aspects of The Shift. The show becomes both an interlocutor and the narrator of what we are seeing – after all, as the plot of the short indeed thickens, and as the tv program’s viewers, we are asked to contribute to the solving of the mystery.
This is the third short film by Italian director Francesco Calabrese, and his first foray into science fiction, following the horror mockumentary Lovely Monster and the drama I killer . Calabrese gained experience in videomaking, by directing many music videos and commercials, and is working on his first feature film, Maicol Jecson.
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