BFI LFF: Anchor and Hope (2017)

Carlos Marques-Marcet looks at London lifestyles on the water in Anchor and Hope, a modern romcom about ways of loving each other.

Three's Company

by Alexa Dalby

Anchor and Hope

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Anchor and Hope is a charming, modern, pre-Brexit romcom. In years to come, we may marvel at the ease with which people crossed borders on a whim and lived and worked easily in each other’s countries.

Eva (Oona Chaplin) and Spanish Kat (Natalia Tena) are a lesbian couple living on a barge moored in the Regent’s Canal. Eva is a salsa teacher and Kat is a barge restorer. They’re happy, jokey and – despite the fact their cat has just died – content together. When Kat’s ebullient, funny and very sexual Spanish friend Roger (David Verdaguer) comes to stay for a couple of weeks, it triggers a crisis in the two women’s relationship. Eva wants a baby, though Kat is not as keen. David agrees to become the sperm donor and he continues to live with them on the barge while Eva’s insemination and then pregnancy continues. But the unresolved tensions that arise cause a fallout on all the combinations of the relationship between the three people and also on their hookups with others.

The film is lovely, fresh and funny in the way it looks at the possibilities of the different kinds of lifestyles that people who care for each other can create. Contemporary London is shot with clear eyes in all its grime and beauty as the barge chugs slowly from grey urban gasometers and traditional waterside pubs in east London to green countryside, and back again. All the performances transition naturally between an endearing joyousness and genuine sadness, and there’s amusingly successful cameo casting of Geraldine Chaplin, Oona’s real-life mother, as Kat’s eccentric mother, warning against what she sees as the mistake of the three young people trying to recreate the alternative lifestyles and communes she lived in in the Sixties.

All you can really do, the film concludes, is to decide when it’s time to metaphorically drop anchor and then hope it all works out. Anchor and Hope is a small but perfectly formed film and something to treasure.

Anchor and Hope screens at the 61st BFI London Film Festival on 10 and 12 October 2017.

BFI London Film Festival 2017

Join the discussion