Directed by: Tom Harden Starring: Stefan Kabrowski Short Film Review by: Bruna Foletto Lucas
As the name of the film suggests, Humdrum is about the lack of excitement about life and the ordeal of the daily routine.
The short film is beautifully shot and told through the main character’s point of view. We follow him as he goes on with his day, but we also get a glimpse of his past and inside thoughts as he narrates them. In a poetic, yet very relatable narration, that follows Virgina Wools’s stream of consciousness, we understand that the character is not only fighting against the daily grind and the dullness of life – he has lost something he can never get it back. We don’t know whether the thing he has lost is his innocence, passion for life, but right from the beginning we get a hint that he has done something that has changed his life.
He wakes up and never smiles; rather he never changes the dead expression on his face. Here, the character is relatable, especially with the millennials as they struggle to accept the 9-to-5 routine, the suits and the pointless jobs. However, his narration gives us an insight that maybe his situation is different. The water motif is present throughout the film – when he takes a shower, he looks peaceful and the voiceover makes us question why - “small droplets washing away my sin” – “sin”, singular, not sins, as we use normally, suggesting there is something specific the character regrets that causes such sadness. The water, as he says, brings him to a time of warmth and evanescence, to a time life had endless possibilities. The shots with the beach show us the immensity of the ocean and waves suggest the comings and goings of life, the surfers taking those waves and riding them mean the possibilities taken and not taken, and finally, when the waves break, they are the end, the opportunities are not coming back, and neither is the time. Time of evanescence.
Moreover, when getting dressed to go to work, the character points out he looks like a Bond villain getting prepared to die, he calls himself “an office drone, far from the one my loved ones once known”. He has changed, life is not what it used to be.
He goes to his job facing the day’s headaches – someone at the bus stop looking for trouble, co-workers who don’t respect boundaries and who bully him; it is easy to see why he is so miserable. The character works in customer support office, filled with “robots” unsatisfied with their own life, but helping others – yet, as he says “this is only thought, never said”. We all suffer together, but we learn to fake it. Part of life is to successfully fake it.
Not only do we all suffer together, but everyone is the the same, we all have the same “bugs” in our system, we can all do the same things, but somehow, only a few of us can overcome things to show who’s boss. He isn’t one of them. He hasn’t overcome his problems. When mentioning his youth, he says that the boy has sadly grown – he is unable to accept life and the changes it brings about. He is not a boss.
But, although the film shows such a dark picture of life, of our Humdrum, it ends on a happy note. One of the good thing that happens during his day is a look he got from a girl, enough to brighten his day, even for a few seconds (change we see on the colour of the film, as well). He is unable to do anything at the moment, but that small look, that small bright moment, was enough to plant a seed on his mind. In the closing, when he asks if life will be always this dull, he takes in the possibility of new beginnings. If he was happy once, why can’t he be again? After all, if life is like the ocean, the waves will come again and that seed that was planted grows to become a beautiful flower.