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Life on a Boat short film review


Directed by: #SantiagoPiqueras

Written by: #SantiagoPiqueras


You have to give credit to Life on a Boat: it’s exactly what it says on the tin. Santiago Piqueras’ short film explores the alternative and quirky lifestyle of a couple who live on a barge, traversing London’s waterways.

Piqueras introduces us to his subjects, Catalin Filip (known by his surname) and Lucie Treacher, and their home – a quaint narrowboat located on the Thames. The pair guide the viewer around their small but homely boat, and give an insight into their daily lives – from maintaining their roof garden to the navigating their rather complex bathroom – as well as more personal stories of how they met and formed their relationship. Piqueras is present throughout the film, and through his time on the boat learns lessons about sustainability and how cutting back to basics can be good for the soul.

Life on a Boat is an affirming short which provides plenty of charm, but lacks the depth required to really engage audiences looking for more than a therapeutic watch. The story of the relationship is a delightful one, but viewers may be wondering why much of the film focuses on this rather than Filip and Lucie’s unique lives on the water. These details make up a shorter amount of the story than audiences may expect, and focus more on the practicalities such as the lack of space or facilities rather than the emotional or personal side of their existences. Little examination is given to whether life on the boat is lonely, or whether the prospect of raising a family is an intimidating one in such a small space for an example. These deeper issues may have clashed with the more mellow tone of the film, but would have allowed us to get to know the pair more intimately.

Sustainability is a key theme of the documentary; however, this again does not receive the level of exploration as it deserves. The couple are both clearly passionate about living environmentally friendly lives, and the director gives a degree of focus to this aspect of the boating lifestyle. Unfortunately this focus is really in passing and we do not delve deeper into the significance of the choices and sacrifices the pair make. We see that water usage is restricted for example, but with little context as to why, or what difference this makes. More time spent on these matters would again have added some meat to the film that otherwise seems purely to be a project devoted to the couple’s lives.

The tone of the film is uplifting and ethereal. The handheld view of Piqueras’ camera places viewers directly onto the boat, and the guided tour of the living quarters is intercut with footage of the barge’s outside. The result is a whimsical atmosphere to the piece, which really helps to establish the oddness of Lucie and Filip’s lives, without making it seem unwelcoming. The film’s music is composed by the pair, who utilise their extravagant collection of unusual instruments to create an immersive Irish-inspired score which suits the quasi-nomadic lives they lead wonderfully.

Life on a Boat is exactly what it promises to be. It’s life, on a boat. And it’s to the filmmaker’s credit that the lives we see are enriching and warming to the spirit. The film does suffer from lack of much else besides this however, and would have benefitted from a little more in the way of depth or informative content to give audiences a real insight into what boat life is really like. Although given what we see of how bathrooms work, many viewers will already have made up their minds!



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