Anchor and Hope

 

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A Spanish filmmaker portrays London and shows a lesbian couple at odds over motherhood.

 
Anchor and Hope

 

A decidedly distinctive work, Anchor and Hope is only the second cinema feature to be made by the Spanish filmmaker Carlos Marques-Marcet who was born in 1983. However, he is long established in his own country as a director of short films in addition to being a writer, an actor and an editor. That said, it is the individuality that he brings to his direction of this film that stands out, causing surprise that his first feature (10,000 Km not released here) did not emerge until 2014. There’s a surprise of another kind too in that, despite featuring two Spanish characters, Anchor and Hope was filmed in London with much of the dialogue in English.

 

The book from which this film derives was a Spanish novel by Maria Llopis but, although centred on a lesbian couple, this adaptation is by two men, one being Marques-Marcet himself. These days that may be frowned upon by some, and it is also the case that the long-term yet troubled relationship of Eva (Oona Chaplin) and Kat (Natalia Tena) is portrayed with realism rather than in an idealised form (that can be a plus or a minus according to your viewpoint). The issue at the heart of this life-like drama is that Eva wants a child and turns to Roger (David Verdaguer), who had known Kat back in Barcelona, to be the sperm donor but that Kat, in contrast, doesn’t see herself as cut out to bring up a child. Consequently, although the proposal is put into operation despite Kat’s doubts, tensions grow by the time that Eva finds herself actually pregnant.

 

Strongly atmospheric in its use of the Regent’s Canal (the couple live on a boat there where Roger joins them), the film seeks with undoubted success to create a deep sense of reality. The deliberately slow pacing (Marques-Marcet is one of three editors) contributes to this as do the unforced performances of Chaplin and Tena, but Anchor and Hope comes across as a film that bears the personal signature of its director with whom the photographer, Dagmar Weaver-Madsen using colour and ’Scope, is utterly attuned.

 

Although this approach is at one with the character of the piece and can even be said to create it, it is, I think, an error to divide the work into four titled sections without any indication of this upfront. The third of these chapters seems to be leading the film to a climax, so the realisation that there is a further segment underlines the fact that, apt as the pacing is, the running length of 113 minutes sometimes seems over-indulgent, and especially so as the film drifts to its semi-open ending. In a film with very few subsidiary characters (the only significant one is Eva’s mother played by Oona Chaplin’s own mother, Geraldine), it is vital that we should become engaged by Eva and Kat. We can indeed believe in them and do wish to follow their story, but even so I could have wished for a somewhat greater emotional response to their situation than I actually felt. The two leading actresses are fine, but it is Carlos Marques-Marcet’s contribution that makes the deepest impression of all.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Oona Chaplin, Natalia Tena, David Verdaguer, Geraldine Chaplin.

 

Dir Carlos Marques-Marcet, Pro Tono Folguera and Sergi Moreno, Screenplay Carlos Marques-Marcet and Jules Nurrish, from the book Maternidades subversivas by Maria Llopis, Ph Dagmar Weaver-Madsen, Pro Des Tim Dickel, Ed Juliana Montañés, David Gallart and Carlos Marques-Marcet, Music Merche Blasco, Costumes Vinyet Escobar.

 

Lastor Media/VennerFilm/La Panda Productions-Network Releasing.
113 mins. Spain/UK/USA. 2017. Rel: 28 September 2018. Cert. 15.