When was the last time you saw a lesbian feature film that included a totally hot sex scene within the first five minutes of the movie?
Before we even get to the plot of this beautiful British-Spanish co-production let’s begin with the cast. The aforementioned lesbians-having-sex co-stars are played by Oona Chaplin (who you may recognize as Talisa Stark from Game of Thrones) and Natalia Tena (also recognizable from Game of Thrones where she plays the remarkably handsome wildling woman, Osha—but even more fabulously recognizable as Tonks from the Harry Potter movies). In a very nice verité touch we also have the legendary Geraldine Chaplin cast as her daughter’s character’s mother (of course Geraldine is the daughter of Charlie Chaplin, as well as being the granddaughter of Eugene O’Neill). Adorably scruffy Catalonian actor David Verdaguer rounds out the excellent cast of this quirky, warm and very European (in the best way) romantic drama.
So Eva and Kat (Oona and Natalia—can we just call them Ootalia?) are a quirky 30-something British couple living on a houseboat floating along the canals of London and occasionally sailing past Eva’s mom’s house (Chaplin).
Eva and Kat’s unconventional paradise begins to falter as it becomes clear that Eva wants to have a baby, while Kat is reluctant and essentially refuses to even discuss the matter. Until… one drunken evening while Kat’s best friend Roger (David Verdaguer) is visiting they decide they will try to make a baby together. If this were your average classic regrettable lesbian drama now would be the moment where Eva and Roger actually have drunken sex—thankfully, Anchor and Hope breaks from tradition and refrains from inflicting that tired, unpleasant plot twist upon us.
The drama that follows revolves more simply and humanly, and beautifully, around the issue of differing needs and desires and what Eva’s mom astutely refers to as: “The inherent problem of expectations.”
“Do you have any psychopaths in your family?” Eva queries Roger in her cut-to-the-chase due diligence process that will be eminently familiar to folks who have been through the process of making babies in non-traditional ways before Roger heads off to the bathroom for a quick wank.
With three different sets of feelings (including Kat’s ongoing reluctance despite her drunken “Yes”) the trio embark on a journey that Eva’s mom warns will be a hard one. Having three people involved is just asking for trouble, she tells them. I’m not going to give you a bunch of plot spoilers here but let’s just say that mothers always know what they’re talking about.
The journey unfolds at a sensual and cinematically languorous pace. Director Carlos Marques-Marcet takes his sweet time—giving us lovely, lingering shots of their idyllic life on the canal. Co-written by the Spanish Marques-Marcet with British lesbian filmmaker Jules Nurrish (writer-director of numerous queer shorts over the years), Anchor and Hope took home this year’s Goya Award (Spain’s Oscar) for Best Non-Catalan Language Film—yes, it is almost entirely in English. It was also a Goya Awards Best Screenplay nominee.
What makes the film so incredibly special is that it demonstrates such affection and respect for these three main characters—we see that each of them is flawed, and we see that each is doing the best they can. The whimsically charming Roger, the emotionally driven Eva and the charismatic, weed-smoking, anti-capitalist Kat are all, if you will, looking for love.
Also, when is the last time you saw a lesbian feature film that actually delivers, in addition to the aforementioned hot sex scene, a happy ending in the last five minutes!
Anchor and Hope opens in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinelounge on November 16 and is out on DVD and digital everywhere on November 20.