Film: We Are Boat
There is one undeniable aspect that connects all of us to each other, and that is death. It’s not a comforting topic, but it’s one that we all will face. In the new film, We Are Boats, James Bird takes an interesting look at the moments before we leave this earth and it’s a beautiful interpretation on the idea that we are all connected.
We Are Boats centers on Francesca (Angela Sarafyan), a strong single mother who was taken from the world before her time. In the Afterlife, her goal is to see her living daughter again, and the only way to do that is to become a guide to those on earth who are in trouble. What starts as a selfish endeavor becomes an extraordinary experience for those she helps.
This isn’t the conventional representation of the Afterlife and that aspect grabs the audience’s attention from the beginning. The visuals in We Are Boats are etherial and specific for the scene, but the attitudes of the ‘angels’ are rough around the edges. This decision is profound, and grounds the story with its reliability. This expresses not only the hope that our existence doesn’t end with our death, but also that we continue to exist as we once were.
The strength of Francesca’s character that continues beyond the veil is appreciated because she feels real. This grounded reality in a fantasy translates to the connectivity of the film. This is keenly witnessed through her interactions with her ‘supervisor,’ Sir (Uzo Aduba). Francesca is no nonsense and opinionated, even to the higher ups, and not a ghostly shell of her past self. Their engagement with each other is both hostile and understanding, which constantly reminds you of the two sides of life.
I enjoy films that showcase how connected the world is because I am fascinated when those occurrences happen in my day to day life. For me, it is a sprinkle of fate as an example of how magical life can be. While it may be an element in film that is exasperated, the use of this element in We Are Boats is the opposite. The subtlety used to connect the characters Francesca interacts with is not forced. This allows for the audience to experience the story and not the mechanics behind it. Each person shines in their story.
The audience only gets to spend time with these people for a limited amount of time, like lost soul Michael (Jack Falahee), absent father Cliff (Graham Greene), or conflicted Ryan (Adriana Mather), but the time spent with each one is powerful. The story does a wonderful job giving the audience just enough information about the character to follow along while still allowing the rest of their journey unfold naturally. You become a part of their lives for a brief moment, experiencing their heartache as they cling to Francesca for support. The way the audience is able to connect to them is a delicate balance between wonderful acting and seamless story, both which help the audience get lost in the film.
When an audience is able to fully lose themselves in a film is when they are able to truly be moved by a story. We Are Boats is much more than an afterlife movie, and the audience is able to engage in what is being presented to them. We look for meaning behind the simple interactions Francesca has with the living, and in doing so causes us to look at ourselves and what we are hoping to gain out of life. That doesn’t mean that the audience is having an existential awakening, but become grounded in the beauty around us.
There is something about We Are Boats that buries itself deep within the viewer. The calm yet purposeful journey Francesca travels down allows the audience to experience life in a way they haven’t before. We are all connected one way or another, the degrees of separation are never far off, but we don’t always experience just how impactful we are to each other. If there is anything that one could take away from this film is just that, living through linked experiences strengthens the soul.
We Are Boats is currently available on VOD.
Written by Lisa M Mejia
Images provided by Breaking Glass Pictures