SXSW 2018: Anchor and Hope
While living on a houseboat, Kat (Natalia Tena) and Eva (Oona Chaplin) struggle with the decision to bring a child into their relationship. In Carlos Marques-Marcet’s comedy/drama film Anchor and Hope, Kat and Eva figure out just how conventional their seemingly unconventional relationship can be. Into their lives comes Kat’s boisterous, charming friend Roger (David Verdaguer) who agrees to act as a sperm donor. When Eva falls pregnant, Kat starts to have doubts about the prospect of having a kid. Set along the London canals in the quirky houseboat, Anchor and Hope executes this somewhat unoriginal story with some unique touches and heartfelt humanity.
Marques-Marcet’s film is lively, funny, and sweet. The relationship between Kat and Eva feels lived-in and rich; their foundation is strong even though they disagree on the topic of kids. Kat goes along with Eva because she loves her and wants her to be happy. It is refreshing to see a relationship drama between queer women where their sexual orientation isn’t a major plot point. There is no coming out subplot or no homophobic characters. This is just a love story that happens to feature lesbians. You could easily rewrite the film with Kat being a male character, and it would play almost exactly the same. The naturalness and ease of the film comes through because the relationship feels authentic.
The leads, Natalia Tena and Oona Chaplin (both veterans of Game of Thrones), offer terrific performances. They are so fun together, but their chemistry really comes alive in the romantic and dramatic scenes. David Verdaguer is a riot as Roger, the oblivious and playboy friend. His character reveals a sweetness and loyalty to his friends that I found surprising. Anchor and Hope also features a nutty but sentimental Geraldine Chaplin playing her real-life daughter’s onscreen mother; there’s an interesting scene that highlights the generational gap between the two. These four characters are definitely not your typical characters, making the film colorful and vibrant.
Anchor and Hope may not be totally inventive on a visual level. I do have to mention the production design by Tim Dickel. The houseboat feels so personal to these characters especially. Dagmar Weaver-Madsen’s cinematography is not very showy but does capture this atypical setting quite well; the opening shot is stunning. Anchor and Hope is a nice movie with strong performances and lots of charm, heart, and humor.