The bonds of trust are what hold a marriage together. Without it, you’re going to have a bad time. But sometimes, things aren’t always as they seem. This is the premise of Writer/Director Lucas Pavetto’s The Perfect Husband (also called What Lies Within), an update to his 2014 short of the same name.
In the beginning, we are introduced to Nicola (Bret Rogers) and Viola (Gabriella Wright) – a married couple who happen to be going through one hell of a tough time following the stillborn birth of their first child.
For his part, Nicola is trying to make things work – that much is clear from the get go. Viola, on the other hand, appears to be in an understandable funk. In an effort to reconnect with the woman he loves, Nicola plans a weekend getaway to his uncle’s cabin in the woods of Italy.
Once they arrive, Nicola rolls out the red carpet for his wife – caring for her, cooking for her – doing all the things a perfect husband would do. When Viola’s attitude and behavior don’t soften, however, we start to see a different side of Nicola – one filled with paranoia and jealous rage.
From there, things become more of a cat-and-mouse game until the end, where we are treated to a gratifying twist. If you pay attention close enough throughout the film, Pavetto leaves breadcrumbs along the way that you can piece together.
While The Perfect Husband only has a run time of 85 minutes, Pavetto certainly takes his time getting to the meat and bones of the story. It’s Pavetto’s attempt of leading into the ultimate payoff. And while the payoff certainly hits at the end, you can’t help but walk away from this film feeling as if more could have been done.
I can appreciate a buildup as much as anyone, but there needs to be some concrete character development along the way to get the audience where you’re ultimately trying to take them. In The Perfect Husband, you’re only treated to bits and pieces of a backstory, which leaves the audience with more questions on their mind than what they should have as the plot thickens.
Where this film shines is with its originality and achievement in cinematography – the latter of which does a great job of matching the pace of the film and overall vibe.
There are other issues with this film that are worth pointing out, though. Most revolve around the dialogue, acting and the editing.
From a dialogue standpoint, this is an Italian film with English speaking actors. Outside of our main characters (who are American and British, respectively), you have a hard time buying into the accents coming from the four characters with speaking roles. I’m convinced there was some blatant voice dubbing done at one point, too. Perhaps this was due to budget constraints, or perhaps it was another oversight in the edits, but there are also quite a few scenes in which it’s very hard to make out what people are saying at all.
And while the film was shot in a mere 18 days, some of the final edits were a bit of a head scratcher. The aerial shots, in particular, were way out of place from a look and feel standpoint. It was almost as if someone put a handheld camera on the bottom of a remote control airplane and then handed the controls to a toddler.
As for the acting, the bulk of the screen time is taken up by Rogers and Wright. As Viola, Gabriella Wright really comes into her own as the film progresses. Rogers, on the other hand, seems a bit stiff and out of place in his role – almost forcing himself into transformation – which is a shame because he had “the look” down pat.
For all of its flaws, though, The Perfect Husband is still a good viewing experience. Lucas Pavetto is making a case for Italian horror again, and if he’s to be the bearer of the torch, I think the industry will benefit from it in the grand scheme of things. I’d like to see what he could do with more time and a bigger budget to play with, because he’s certainly got the mind to pull off something spectacular.
If you’re looking for a thriller to watch with your significant other that is going to make you look a hell of a lot better when it’s all over – this film is worth your time.
The Perfect Husband is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
The Perfect Husband [Review]
An original twist to a familiar landscape, The Perfect Husband has its fair share of shortcomings, but it also has its fair share of successes. It’s a mixed bag, but ultimately, an enjoyable experience.