Directed by Christopher Carson Emmons Written by Mark Renshaw Starring Aram Hekinian, Jade Elysan, & Marisa Roper Short Film Review by Sarah Smeaton
Surrender is a hallucinatory, insightful short film that pulls the audience into the disconnected and disillusioned thought patterns of main character, David, and essentially what has become his way of life. Right from the beginning, we’re forced into a world where we’re unsure of what exactly is real and what is not. This is the world of a severe alcoholic who is driven by his next drink whilst trying to live a normal life, holding down an office job and looking after a young family.
Aram Hekinian, playing main character David, shows his true acting potential here in Surrender, by not only being perceptive but also sensitive. He does not overplay the traits of an alcoholic like some performers might have been tempted to do. This is simply an ordinary man that would otherwise be living a ‘normal’ life if it weren’t for his uncontrollable addiction to a substance.
Director, Christopher Carson Emmons, and writer, Mark Renshaw, work perfectly together at shining a light on this everyday side of alcoholism. David is essentially an ordinary chap - he’s just had his life taken over by a substance that controls his every thought. The bottle of clear spirit that he drinks throughout the day has ‘Drink Me’ written on it – just one of the many ‘Alice in Wonderland’ types of labels David sees in his day to day existence that shines out like a beacon to him, encouraging him to act in a certain way. Just like Alice in Wonderland, David is forced to obey the notes as he seemingly has no other option.
The quote at the beginning of Surrender from Thomas Fuller perfectly sums up what this short film is about:
“Wine hath drowned more men than the sea.”
With constant hallucinations played out on screen along with whole characters who might just be a figment of David’s imagination, the end of the film will more than likely leave you with more questions than you started with, but what I think this film excellently does is open up questions that must be asked. It allows the taboo topic of alcoholism to have its lid taken off so we can fully see inside. If only more films would have the courage to step away from stereotypical plots and be brave enough to confront important topics such as this.