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Sofa Surfer (2022) Short Film Review

Updated: Dec 16, 2021


Directed by: Michele Olivieri

Written by: Kim Taylor

Starring: Tom Dayton, James Campbell-Warner


A dejected sofa surfer wanders the streets at night looking for a place to sleep, until an old friend offers him a bed for the night, only to tempt him back into a past addiction.

Sofa Surfer (2022) is an independent short drama, directed by London based filmmaker Michele Olivieri, originally from Verona, Italy. The film is set for a 2022 release and, although Olivieri has never experienced drug addiction or homelessness, he found the script emotionally resonating and wanted to explore the relatable feelings of isolation and loneliness the protagonist experiences in the narrative.

Jean-Loup Pinson’s effectively haunting score introduces us to the film, with a simple chord progression demonstrating the harshness of street living and establishing the sombre tone of the short very well. The film has a short running time of twelve minutes, but the pacing is kept methodical and slow as we fade into the first long shot of a dark, suburban street with our lead, Rob (Dayton), coming into view and unsuccessfully trying to find a bed for the night by calling many friends on his mobile. Dayton plays the fake easy-going attitude well as he is overcome with desperation and longing for home comforts and much-needed kindness from his contacts, only to be rejected twice. We get the sense that Rob has a great uneasiness around a local drug dealer when he moves to sit at an empty bus stop instead and this plot progression is further explored later.

Sofa Surfer (2022) short film poster

The lost and aimless Rob eventually calls the number he has been avoiding, with the recipient, Carl (Campbell-Warner), only too pleased to offer him his flatmate’s room whilst the latter is out of town. Rob is visibly uneasy whilst in Carl’s presence, leading to a stylised montage scored by haunting male vocals, as Rob imagines himself being subjected to Carl’s dark influence and once again taking drugs.

Campbell-Warner shines here, giving an eerier performance, as seen through Rob’s eyes, as a chilling villainous presence hell-bent on destroying all the good progress Rob has made on getting clean. Rob’s paranoia is wonderfully well realised through uncomfortable and claustrophobic extreme close-ups of Carl bullying his ‘friend’ into taking drugs and locking the front door so Rob seemingly has no escape. Olivieri constructs an engulfing hypotonic, dreamlike filmmaking style and the compelling ongoing visual motif of travel, represented by cars or trains passing demonstrate how people are always moving to reach various destinations, whereas, Rob is left out in the cold and has no place to call home.

Sofa Surfer examines the real social issue of homelessness in an immersive and creative fashion, making audiences aware of the problem whilst also presenting real talent behind and in front of the camera and resulting in a both moving and entrancing viewing experience.



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