Anchor and Hope Review

Anchor and Hope

There are a plenty of films which show the happy trail leading up to happy-ever-after, and many others which chronicle the trials of tribulations of parenthood. But there are few in recent memory that delve effectively into the intervening period and the complications which can arise when trying to start a family.

This is accomplished sweetly and effectively through the story of Kat (Natalia Tena) and Eva (Oona Chaplin), as told in Carlos Marques-Marcet’s new film, Anchor and Hope.

There is an opening shot of the couple gliding down one of London’s canals in their houseboat. Their tranquillity is punctured by the next scene where we see them burying their cat which had recently passed away.

Eva’s eccentric mother Germaine (Geraldine Chaplin, Oona’s real-life mother) presides over the burial, which gives some levity but there is still a strong underlying feeling of loss.

Both are upset, but their sadness is manifested in different ways.

Eva expresses her wish for a child, Kat is not exactly on board with the idea, and you sense it is not the first time the subject has arisen between the two.

Enter Kat’s good friend Roger (David Vergauer), who is a bit of a free spirit and has just landed in London for a few weeks. One night, the three get more than a little drunk and hatch a plan to have a baby together.

Kat wakes the next day, nursing both a hangover and the assumption that the drunk talk didn’t count. Eva is meanwhile busily quizzing Roger on his genetic history and Roger seems open to the idea of being a donor for the couple.

There are heated exchanges between Kat and Eva, but the two eventually agree to move forward with the plan, with Roger participating on a donor-only basis.

As matters progress, the feelings of all concerned start pulling them in different directions.

Marques-Marcet, reunited with Vergauer and Tena, generates outstanding performances from the central trio, particularly Tena and Oona Chaplin.

In the actors’ hands, Kat and Eva are real, fully fleshed-out people who you can’t help but identify with each of their viewpoints and journeys as the story unfolds. Vergauer’s Roger is the right note of happy-go-luckiness, with something deeper ultimately glimpsed within.

The director co-wrote the film with Jules Nurrish and, through a neat chapter structure, keeps proceedings moving relatively swiftly without sacrificing substance or complexity. The drama is also interlaced with plenty of humour.

Spanish director Marques-Marcet may not be a household name in the UK but Game of Thrones’ popularity will hopefully draw people’s attention to the film, featuring as it does two prominent actors from the show in the central roles.

A deep and mature drama, this is highly recommended.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2018