Who do you turn to in the wake of a break-up? Family? Friends? How about a friend who happens to be an ex? In Francesca de Fusco charming eight-minute short Friends Like That we follow heartbroken Maia as she seeks comfort from her friend and previous partner Alex. Told with refreshing authenticity, de Fusco’s simple but incredibly relatable premise appears to capture what at first sight feels like a mundane situation, but deep into the storyline you soon begin to see that this recoupling has the potential to become a reverberating experience that will shape both their relationship and who they are individually.
The genuine tone of the screenplay might instantly lead you to believe that the inspiration for Friends Like That stemmed from real life, but when we asked what brought de Fusco to penning this story, she shared that the main inspiration was rather the idea of “what we do to try to feel better, relying on friends as family and confusing boundaries between the two”. Before adding that she made her short to explore “the private, maybe even banal experiences we have that don’t get recognized or rewarded in life, but shape us so profoundly”.
I found the simplicity of the film especially charming, as de Fusco subtly builds her characters and their complex relationship, the dialogue allows us to piece together who they are, how they are connected and how this break up is making them both react. Using life’s distinct sense of humor to move the story forward, we laugh at the situation Maia is in, yet we can’t help but see a little bit of ourselves in her. The scenes as she tries to distract herself while Alex was gone were especially relatable.
Just like in any short that relies heavily on its dialogue, and revolves around a relationship between two characters, casting is essential in its success and the pairing of Victoria Cronin (Maya) and Roberta Colindrez (Alex) is perfect for bringing de Fusco’s words to the screen. Sharing great chemistry, Cronin plays the dumpee in the most genuine manner, feeling sorry for herself, without pushing it too far for contrived comedic purposes. While Colindrez manages to be both kind and sarcastic, giving the audience a clear window into the pair’s normal dynamic. The way they exchange lines is deeply entertaining, fleshing out their characters with authenticity and painting a fun friendship, which is undeniably pleasant to watch.
Ahead of its online premiere, Friends Like That hit the 2019/2020 festival circuit with notable stops at Inside Out and the Palm Springs ShortFest. de Fusco is currently in post on a new short, which she describes as a queer coming-of-age story, shot in Bergamo, Italy (before the pandemic).