Written & Directed by Steve Anderson
Short Film Review by Taryll Baker
First and foremost, Steve Anderson has given us very little information regarding the film’s production; cast, crew, editors, music, to name a few. So, while Drifter is an enjoyable short film, its advertising (or lack of it) sets a pretty clear message from the start.
In order to pull off the ‘silent film,’ you must be skilled in writing, allowing the audience to connect to the characters or setting. Drifter is a good attempt. We’re not given any introduction, simply thrown into the journey of a homeless man as he stumbles through town trying to repair his fractured relationship. The girl, also not named, is mostly seen through flashbacks as our ‘drifter’ searches for food and water.
Anderson takes the classic approach and shoots the film in black and white through a dismal low resolution. It complements the setting very well and when paired with the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (“Egmont, Op. 84: Overture”) it becomes an engrossing picture. However, if you were to remove these elements, the entire painting would feel unfinished. Anderson’s strokes are colourless when it comes back to the characters.
Both performers are suitable in their respective roles, however they’re written with very little inspiration; listless and mundane. The final scene doesn’t feel powerful or rewarding in any way because we’ve hardly had time to understand them. There are many shots of the ‘drifter’ scavenging, which of course is useful in the storytelling, yet we’re (ironically) force-fed too much. This fills a majority of the running-length with little left for complex character building.
The locations used are appropriate backdrops for the lead character. It looks dark and gritty, applying an aged look to the picture. That said, it proved difficult for filming as some continuity errors are clear as day, most notably in the shots with traffic moving in the background. Though, as it’s a film with little to no budget we can let this slide.
Everything in the production aspect, from costumes to music and editing is wonderfully crafted and thought through. It begins to lack when the story attempts to subdue the audience with a lacklustre plot and wearisome (though nicely performed) characters.
An uninteresting plot with a palisaded, brilliant production behind the lens. Whilst Steve Anderson’s Drifter isn’t an amazing feat, it does hold the viewer until the bitter end.