written & directed by Christopher Brown, 2015
Soap is an experimental black comedy about a petty criminal, Sami, who breaks into a house and is confronted by Sophia, who lures him into her bathroom. The film is almost entirely set in a bathtub, in which the characters' mutual wariness melts away to reveal a tentative, vicious, and highly sexual attraction.
Soap screened at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival, in their 'Great Performances' series which highlighted stellar acting. Described as "a steamy short film from England" in the programme of the 2015 New Jersey International Film Festival, it went on to win an honorable mention.
The film stars Eugenia Caruso and Rory Finn, who give memorable comic performances. It was the director's first collaboration with Caruso, who appears as Disco Woman in Coccolith.
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. “Fuck me lo-fi”, Sami, the burglar, pleads with Sophia, the owner of the property, before reminding her 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 a 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. As Sami points out, wiping away his shaving foam, it’s just like the cinema.
Christopher Brown, 2015