In ‘We Are Boats’ James Bird Dives in at the Deep end but Doesn’t Quite Float

Image courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures

We Are Boats tells the story of Francesca (Angela Sarafyan) as her life on Earth ends and her life beyond it begins. Determined to help others, she starts working in the living world, meeting people and connecting with them in their final moments before they meet their own fate.  

A lot of love went into the making of this movie. Writer-director James Bird presents the first 100% vegan movie ever made with incredibly diverse statistics: it has a cast made up of 50% women, 41% people of colour and a crew that is 45% women. It is an admirable effort that has had repercussions seen in Hollywood, with the planned Avatar sequels also using vegan sets. Unfortunately, these statistics prove more interesting than the film they represent.

I wanted to love this movie, I’m a sucker for interlocking story lines such as TV show Touch and rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love. This movie, as a concept, is like the guardian angel version of Crazy, Stupid, Love, but a bit more morbid and with less likeable characters. Some characters’ lives connect moments before they are separated forever, and others are brought together as a consequence. Everything loops around just as you expect it to, but unfortunately nothing quite hits the level of satisfaction you might want it to.

Whilst the story itself was a promising premise and you want to know more about the world Francesca found herself living in, We Are Boats is let down by a cliché script and stifled acting in some parts. It aims to do too much and leaves itself falling short of achieving any of its ambitions. Too many characters are crammed into a story that fails to make you really care about any of them.

The emotional crux of this movie lies in Francesca’s desire to see her daughter again, and the tensions release in a short but quite beautiful scene towards the end of the movie. The only issue is that throughout the rest of the film her daughter is but an afterthought, so when it comes to this moment you don’t feel the heart behind the words she is saying. This movie is strongest when it reveals its emotions, yet most of the time the sentiment gets side-tracked for even more characters and stories.

It is a shame really, because the film has so much potential, especially Bird as a director; I’m sure there will be a great film to come out of him some day. When the film is good, it’s good. Shout-outs have to go to Uzo Aduba – who steals every scene she is in – and Graham Greene.

Whilst the movie-watching experience itself may be lacking, the behind the scenes has a very interesting story to tell. Its incredibly diverse statistics are evident throughout and particularly interesting when put in place for a movie that concerns the lives of people connecting. These characters are all linked yet come from completely different backgrounds. Ultimately, it seems this was Bird’s aim – to show how we as humans are one in the same, and to encourage us to start a conversation with one another.


by Georgia Carroll

Georgia Carroll is a Broadcast Journalism student from the University of Leeds, currently living and studying in Wellington, New Zealand. She is a proud Mancunian who loves radio, film and pretty much anything sci-fi or 80s. You can find her on twitter @georgiacarroll_ and letterboxd

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