In his new film Tides, director Tupaq Felber offers a beautifully well observed, expertly acted and hugely understated account about a group of friends trying to navigate their relationships and middle age after a recent loss. Written by Felber in a collaborative effort with his cast, Tides tells a simple story with a great deal of honesty and realism, even if it is ultimately let down by a decidedly meandering narrative and dialogue which doesn’t always manage to hit the right notes.
Over a hot summer weekend, a group of forty-somethings embark on an adventure onboard a narrowboat navigated by recently bereaved Jon (Jon Foster). Loaded with with booze, food and other recreational paraphernalia, Jon is joined by overly talkative actress Red (Robyn Isaac), the quietly reflective Zooby (Jamie Zubairi) and acerbic Simon (Simon Meacock), who swiftly revert to their playful youth. After a few drinks and a series of harmless jibes and insults, old wounds and new ones are reopened, leading the group to look inwardly on their own lives and the fragility of their own friendships.
Shot in stylish black and white and in real time over a few days, Tides has the kind of structure which flows naturally, even if at times you get the sense that the film could have benefited greatly from a more structured narrative. And while Felber should be commended for opting for a less rigid screenplay by allowing his cast, which is made up of his own real friends, to interact which each other the way their usually do in private, it would have done the script no harm to have had a couple of fully scripted scenes to give the story a little more of solid base.
Tonally and aesthetically, Tides can’t be faulted, there are shades of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) or even more recently Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly (2009), which both carry a sense of dread of imminent catastrophe hanging in the background, something which in the end Tides isn’t able to deliver on fully.
On the whole, Tides does a great job in showcasing some truly impressive performances, especially courtesy of the very likeable Robyn Isaac whose absence in the second half of the film becomes hugely apparent. It is also worth pointing out a hugely understated performance by the brilliant Jamie Zubairi, whose level-headed approach is felt thought the film.
Tides is in Cinemas from Friday 14th of December and now On Demand.