Directed by Michele Olivieri and written by Kim Taylor, a sofa surfer seeks a place for the night. As everybody turns him down, he must face the demons of an old addiction. Starring: Tom Dayton, James Campbell-Warner, Marcus McLean and Marc Wolstenholme.
Diving into Sofa Surfer the directorial style immediately reflects the tone of the story, it’s humble, understated and gritty. It goes deeply into the perspective of being on the street, not just observing Rob (Tom Dayton) but experiencing the night alongside him. It was a great choice by Michele Olivieri and it’s only a shame to see it veer off of the path towards the end into something slightly experimental or chaotic which throws off that consistency. Moving into such an overt tone unfortunately undercuts what it’s built up until that point, and does mean that its sincerity gets knocked down a few levels.
The story is a great example of a vicious cycle, of how having no steady place to stay leads to choices like drugs which then just further the problem and keeps cutting down their options even further. It’s approached in a sympathetic and simple manner which allows you to easily follow and engage with the story. It’s topped, for the most part, with a nicely subtle score that enhances the emotion. However, much like with the direction, in the end it adopts an operatic, over the top style which throws things off balance.
Although Tom Dayton does a great job of trying to hold onto that sincerity, he creates a character who’s easily relatable. There’s no great need to know how or why he ended up in the position he’s in, there’s an accessibility to him which makes the film flow well. He particularly convincingly captures the issue of pride and the struggle to ask for help. As well as the outright fear of falling into a hole he can’t get out of when it comes to drugs and similar temptations.
Sofa Surfer does a great job of portraying how sofa surfing can quickly become a downhill journey to much worse destinations. It starts out very well, the style and tone are all perfectly consistently to create an understated but strong atmosphere, much helped by the great performance from Tom Dayton. However, the decisions that it makes in its latter scenes feel like too harsh of a contrast to the rest of the film and by going over the top, instead of driving the message home harder, it ends on a disappointing note.