Thursday, March 1, 2018

Dream Boat 2017 directed by Tristan Ferland Milewski

Dream Boat is a 92 minute documentary following, more or less, five guys from different countries on a yearly all male gay cruise. It is composed of little audio vignettes and conversions of the vacationers impressions and feelings as they navigate though the myriad of parties, activities and 1000s of other guests - waxing poetic about their lives outside the bubble of the cruise ship and what they hope to get from this experience.

The cinematography, editing, sound - all the technical stuff are very, very good. It's obvious the film has a budget, but not big enough one to include the actual music played on the ship (which is  financially prohibitive these days) but to be honest I prefer the music made for the film, it's less distracting and gives a mood over a greatest hits list.

I feel less kindly towards the content we are shown. Slow films that move a their own pace are something I really appreciate, and I like that the filmmaker avoided the quick cutting party, music video look that would have been a given in most documentaries about gay men on a party boat.  However... this film would still be lacking enough real content if it was ½ it's current length. So many butt and crotch shots, so many beautiful drone shots of the boat from above, so many people just milling about in slow motion and so little actual information transmitted to the viewer.

It's hard to know what story or stories this doc is trying to tell. To be fair to the people interviewed, I think pretty much all of them had interesting stories to tell but we never got to hear more than the most superficial read of who these people are. The meandering pace and constant b-roll filler of party goers completely obscures anything we might get to find out about the cast.  Seriously, a 45 minute cut of this movie would be a huge improvement but I suspect still unsatisfying.

The elements of interest are present. Guys from very gay hostile countries, guys who have been serious hard times in their relationship,  he handicapped older man with his partner finding ways to participate in the activities - any one of these stories could be worth hearing about. Instead we hear far too much complaining about "gay culture" from them when practically everyone we see in the background is having a great time. I want to believe there was a lot more said in the interviews than the banal, lazy "all gay men want is..." statements that show lack of self reflection more than tell anything profound or true.

In the end, what could have been eye opening, is just eye candy. Did we really need to see someone getting a blowjob in public? I was left thinking the subjects were looking less for love and acceptance as they claimed but for attention.


T' said...

That's too bad. It seems a lot of 'gay culture' either is or is always portrayed as being rather shallow and one note. That being said, I generally can't stand things that are 'gay culture' labeled. I don't think we need to belong to these clubs any more. And I'm honestly tired of 'gay' having to be one thing only. I don't like musicals much, don't care for Judy Garland, Cher or any of that stuff. By trying to represent, most of these films or shows just manage to cut people out while reinforcing their little clique. Ah, well.

Behemoth media said...

Often the gay culture portrayed hasn't been gay culture for many decades as well. gay guys in their 20s have no idea who Judy garland is and most of the drag bars these days are filled with straight women on girl's night out. This movie could have made a point that this was needed because for many of the people on this cruise it was the one time a year they could be themselves or over do it and not be thrown off a building. But it didn't go there. It could have brought up how he generation of guys who lost everything to AIDS were trying to recapture the preAIDS period of their lives or how the groups from various cultures and ages mixed it up on the boat but it didn't do that either. This came off as shallow and one note people complain how shallow and one note everyone else is!