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Brown, Christopher (2015) Soap. [Video]

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'Soap' is a short dark comedy film, an experimental narrative: when Sami breaks into a house, he is disturbed by Sophia, the owner of the property, who lures the criminal into her bathtub.

The film premiered at the 2015 New Jersey International Film Festival, hosted at Rutgers University, where it opened the competition section and won an honorable mention. It was also screened at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of their ‘Great Performances’ series.


'Soap' imagines a bathtub as a site of sexual encounter between a burglar and a homeowner. It’s initially a space in which classic cinematic tropes – film noir with a dash of British realism – are played out, but which soon morphs into a fantasy digital realm which bears more than a passing resemblance to an Xtube video. Sami, the burglar, reminds Sophia, the owner of the property, that they are lost in an endless flow of files, folders, clouds, and streams; all “compressed, but real as can be.”

Just how anonymous is a sexual encounter when the participants themselves realize it is something worth watching? Sami and Sophia are trapped in a farce, self-consciously replete with hot criminals, cheating lovers, melodramatic revelations, and a mysterious pile of raspberry jelly (appropriately ~ formless).

The film is both an unabashed guilty pleasure and a formal experiment. We shot with a Pocket BlackMagic in a confined space, making extensive use of offscreen action and sound, restricting ourselves to close-ups once Sami and Sophia step into the bath. The insistently locked-off, shot-reverse-shot camerawork traces a route from classic noir to webcam aesthetics, thereby referencing a historical moment perhaps epitomized by the Andy Warhol film Trash (I was thinking of this film, and the ways it anticipates the staging of reality TV, when I wrote the script). The bath is a soapy realm of sexual transgression, a place where old is made new, where identities shape and blend, where performance endures. As Sami points out, wiping away his shaving foam, it’s just like the cinema.

Item Type: Video
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sexuality, Gender, Queer, Noir, Digital, Formless
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Design (DSC)
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016 13:18
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

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