CinéDOC: Romanticisation Of The Lonesome Ocean – Review of Exotica, Erotica, Etc.


Modern tanker ships are part of the hall of fame for grand constructions. Our mind firstly thinks of long sea journeys and environmental destruction. This calm and slow-motion picture makes use of our perceived immobility of these hauls, converting our nasty image of oil tankers into a story filled with amorousness. Trying to be a romanticisation of the loneliness of sailors and their mistresses, the movie lacks an encompassing storyline to create an intimate connection with the characters. Humans are rather put in second place in favor of an intricate and emotion-laden plot between land and sea.

By shedding light on the lifestyles of both sailors and harbor prostitutes, the movie partially succeeds in exploring the misery endured by either side. The rare moments when ships let go anchor, the two parties meet, spilling alcohol and words of affirmation. Their loneliness and fragility hide behind a momentary spark of joy as departure is usually in sight, thus making the most of their nights before the sailors leave the shores.

A movie that shatters the perceptions of prostitutes as emotionless service-givers and of sailors as strongmen, a poetic male and female voice erotically comment on their sentiments when separated by the blue ocean. Nostalgia reigns, dwelling in past encounters, while excitement seethes beneath the surface longing for new momentary snapshots of happiness. Director Evangelia Kranioti reframed the definition of love as her main female narrator indulges in her attractiveness to sailors as a group then to individual men. Equally, the bridge of the tankers exhibits solitude calling for distraction in the form of feasts and parties. The workers spend their time working off routine tasks, while they are held voluntary prisoners on a moving, iron vessel. 

Trying to kill two birds with one stone – the love between sailors and prostitutes as well as the romanticisation of the profession “sailor” – the script achieves both only partially. Footage from an American festival in a little town adds confusion to the storyline, even though the connection to the overall idea is visible. Scenes of bulbs breaking barrier ice in the Arctic followed by endless efforts to navigate a leviathan through stormy weather, the movie successfully builds up pulsating moments, yet fails to reach a closing climax.

Occasionally, a picturesque shot of the deck sailing towards the sunset in open waters tugs the vessel away from transport duty, transforming it into a sanctuary for couples proposing to their better halves. Unfortunately, lost at sea, the isolation from society bars lovers from boarding the deck, or even discovering it. 

One thing it excelled in: the remodeling of the unethical and dollar bill-obsessed shipping industry, or at least the people behind it. It puts ordinary workers with their feelings and desires in the limelight, pulling off a softer version of the depiction similar to The Perfect Strom. The footage manages to add grace and a feeling of "home"to gigantic steel constructions used for the transport of oil. 

By Benjamin Music

Photo: Exotica, Erotica, Etc.

08 May 2018 01:18