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Anchor and Hope review - boring gay representation is better than nothing

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Verdict: Being starved for LGBT+ representation means suffering through distinctly average films.

This relationship drama from director Carlos Marques-Marcet stars Game of Thrones’ Oona Chaplin and Natalia Tena as a canal-boat dwelling couple making a life for themselves on the Thames.

Eva (Chaplin) brings up her desire to have a child, which throws Kat (Tena)’s world into disarray. The arrival of Kat’s friend Roger (David Verdaguer) turns the possibility into a reality as the three of them try their best to navigate this new territory.

Though it’s always gratifying to see LGBT+ stories on screen, it’s a shame that Anchor and Hope isn’t a more sophisticated film.

I will give it this: it’s particularly satisfying to see a film in which two women being in a relationship isn’t the main challenge of the film — the drama isn’t a fight for acceptance for this couple, or a tragedy in which their love is forbidden. Rather, their domestic life is blissful, and the challenges in their relationship are due to differences in what they want in life, not because they are both women, but because of who they are as individuals.

Though the pair have undeniable chemistry, the dialogue isn’t as natural as it could have been, with the numerous “babe”s sounding almost comically forced at times. The arguments between the two of them again seem staged and their behaviour frankly immature, which is nothing more than frustrating to watch.

The boat and the river play a large part in the film — their non-traditional life reflected in their nomadic, ever changing living conditions. The river supposedly represents the journey of life — sometimes calm and helpful and other times storm-tossed and dangerous. Unfortunately, this plays out on screen as blatantly as I’ve just described. There’s no subtlety at all, and when the metaphor is thrown in your face so obviously, it comes across as cheap and badly written. 

The best moments of this film come when it commits to realism, and there’s no denying the intense emotion behind two people who love each other but can’t agree on such a big life decision. When it strays into the melodramatic, however, it loses its flair.

The ending, though perhaps realistic, is far from satisfying. Perhaps, though, that is the whole point. Doesn’t make it any more rewarding to watch, though.

Anchor and Hope is in UK cinemas from September 28th.

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