Short Film Review “Drifter”

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First, the Recap:

When life has struck you down, it ultimate matters how you choose to get back up. When it’s heartbreak added to the mix, sometimes that journey to rightness is only made that much harder.  In a local park, leaning against the tree trunk which serves as a makeshift “pillow” and/or “bed”, a homeless man (Joshua Hocking) wakes from a rough night’s sleep. Stumbling to life, he goes about the initial morning rituals before embarking on his day.

Meandering randomly about the town he’s drifted into, his quests for sustenance take him to garbage can depths while also stealing away some needed water from a local home’s outdoor faucet. Continuing to make these seemingly indiscriminate stops about the area, he finally comes to a payphone where a conversation, unheard, ensues.  Soon, however, flashback images of a girl (Claire Thomas) indicate there’s much more to his supposedly arbitrary wanderings than it seems.

Next, my Mind:

Writer/director/producer Stephen Anderson’s 9-minute debut film effort herald’s back to the general feel of classic B&W silent era films given its simple execution, dialogue-free, visually guided, music score driven delivery that gives its narrative about trying to pick yourself up from hard situations and aiming to seek reconciliation/improvement all the more clearly emphasized and evident. It illustrates that even despite this poor man’s totally disheveled state of being and accompanying routines that would give the viewer no reason to initially believe he has anything good occurring in his life, you are drawn in that much deeper by this, just pining to see what the actual deal is with this man beyond what we witness on the surface. The orchestral score that follows the action somehow enhances the character’s every move, again harkening back to those good old fashioned silent films which also relied on music and visual cues only.

Hocking does a great job selling us on his character, portraying the homeless soul as the unkempt, addled, not totally there human being he is, to the point where our sympathy is resting solely on his condition of living alone.  However, as the story unfolds, our hearts get pulled in a different direction than we would anticipate as Hocking navigates the man’s methodical regimen with what is soon revealed to be a much loftier purpose than mere survival. It turns into a quest for redemption of love, and whether that is ultimately achieved, well, this is a no spoiler zone.  Watch the film!  Again, though, Hocking is a honest joy to watch. Thomas adds the element that very effectively changes the whole dynamic of what we are viewing in Hocking’s character’s tale, and her facial expressions and body language tell us all we need to know about her character’s plight and expectations.

Overall, “Drifter” is a decent first effort from Anderson, with room to improve overall.  It may not be earthshaking, but let’s never forget that the beauty of independent film isn’t always to be such, perhaps not even EXPECTED to be such, instead striving to tell human stories in effective, creative, entertaining ways, rough edges and all.  Because isn’t imperfection, yet always desiring to improve and grow, exactly what it is to BE human?

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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