Anchor and Hope is a curious indie drama that invites us into the free-spirited lives of lesbian couple Eva (Oona Chaplin) and Kat (Natalia Tena), who live on a barge in and around the canals of London. They display bohemian stylistics to the outside world and enjoy their freedom, but when Eva decides she wants a baby, things begin to change as their mutual Spanish friend Roger (David Verdaguer) is chosen as the possible father.
While lead actors Oona and Natalia offer up fine performances throughout, the film does lean towards a rather odd solution, in this specific circumstance, to their desires but it’s also an unusually beautiful film in many other areas. The lead three, directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet, offer us naturalistic displays when it comes to decisions and on-screen drama but the story feels very much outside of bubble they’re living within and, in truth, maybe that’s the point. Overall, it’s a tale of finding out whether you’re comfortable moving in with other society, or whether it’s possible to stay on the boundaries if you’re trying to raise a child.
Anchor and Hope holds a whole heart of passion and honesty, in both a personal and metaphorical sense, and for me felt like a very specific moment in life, akin to your early twenties when you’re trying to work out what it’s all about and if the people you’re with, as the people you want to stay with. While some films could be tied into the ‘coming of age’ genre here, Marques-Marcet’s film tends to live outside of that as well and so a target market is somewhat hard to specifically tie down.
Where the film succeeds is displaying a different, slow pace of life in reflection to the chaos around it. It’s difficult to believe it’s filmed in and around London if you’re unaware of the vast canals that spread out across like veins through the old and the new. Much drinking takes place, many self-indulgent arguments explode into life but it’s never nasty, everyone is just trying to find a place for themselves in their own story.
The director enjoys administering long, lingering shots that could be cut back a little, because while they do reveal a gradual reality, or an interesting insight into how consider an intense situation, they do detract from a natural energy because you know what’s going on, if you have any kind of understanding for how people think. Some of the longer ‘happier’ moments lose their edge because they’re as slow as the world around them, it’s like we’re clearly being shown this is a good moment, and it’s not always necessary.
Does the course of true love ever run smooth? Is it all a fallacy? These are the questions born and raised through Anchor and Hope and as you glide along with them on the Canal, you’ll discover a bittersweet narrative with an underlying sense of the melancholic but it’s also thoughtful, funny and reflective with two conflicting but caring characters in Eva and Kat, both expertly portrayed by Chaplin and Tena.