Film & TV

Film Review: Anchor and Hope

A raw and emotionally taut film, Anchor and Hope follows the electric relationship of Eva (Oona Chaplin) and Kat (Natalia Tena) as they face the struggles of love, loss and the complicated possibilities that the appearance of Kat’s best friend Roger (David Verdaguer) brings. It strikes a chord with its honest portrayal of the difficulties that arise in a relationship due to a clash of desires, and explores same-sex relationships and parenting in such an unobstructed manner, making it a truly affecting film.

Before the characters even speak, director Carlos Marques-Marcet delivers, with an astonishing shot of Eva’s profile set to the backdrop of the London canals as they emerge from under a bridge. I was already impressed, and from then onwards the film becomes more and more aesthetically pleasing with stunning panoramic moments and camera angles that create an extremely intimate and powerful atmosphere – the slamming down of a teapot has never looked so good! Maybe I am biased and just enjoyed the beautiful shots of my city’s canals, but the focus on the ever-moving water and the ceaseless workings of their bohemian lifestyle adds another layer of meaning and emotion to the tumultuous film.

The choice of music adds to the effect of the camera shots and filming techniques. Whether it is from the characters playing the piano and singing or from the soundtrack, it is rather haunting at times. The emotive lyrics, or lack of them, cut deep revealing even more emotion.

And then there is the use of silence. Throughout the film there are moments of absolute silence, or merely no talking, accompanying either the actions of the characters or a canal shot. In these moving moments, I felt the most drawn to the screen and if it wasn’t for the incredible talent of the cast, I think Marques-Marcet may have struggled to pull them off.

“It is the ongoing humour which serves as relief from the stirring drama”

Chaplin certainly lives up to her Game of Thrones reputation, producing a heart-wrenching and scarily natural performance. Tena immediately establishes her character’s cheeky and assertive personality and showcases her talent from the start – her role as Nymphodora Tonks in Harry Potter is hard to recall whilst watching her in Anchor and Hope! Together, they create the ideal pairing, nailing the two women fuelled by love but torn apart by the prospect of starting a family. Chaplin and Tena collide beautifully, enhancing each other’s performances, and the addition of Verdaguer creates a dynamic trio, with Roger being a wonderful source of humour in the film.

It is the ongoing humour which serves as relief from the stirring drama and makes this film so bittersweet. The script is very well-written and I found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions, sometimes at the subtlest injections of humour. The switching between English and Spanish is enacted flawlessly and works to draw Roger and Kat closer together, setting up the intimacy as well as the playfulness and comic nature of their friendship. Verdaguer stands out for his ability to harness both the comedy and the sorrow, making his moments of sadness so heart-breaking. The cast on the whole master this combination of emotions and deliver the lines so smoothly that everything just appears amazingly natural.

I’m not surprised that Anchor and Hope has already played so many film festivals, including the London Film Festival in 2017, the Rotterdam Film Festival and the Sevilla European Film Festival, winning Best Film. Marques-Marcet has taken three character’s lives and experiences and transformed them into a visually stunning and emotionally fraught journey that I couldn’t help but follow.

9/10

Katie Moncur

Anchor and Hope will be available on DVD and Digital Download from 5th November.

Featured image courtesy of Vennerfilm via IMDb.

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