Jan 15, 2018

[Movies] Dream Boat (2017) Review


The gay cruise is a concept that I've yet to fully wrap my head around. Then again, it's not like I understand why people go on cruises, period. But it really does seem to be a major thing as we are all reminded whenever Al and Chuck Travel sponsor something on shows like RuPaul's Drag Race.

Enter Dream Boat, a documentary about gay cruises that popped up in our Netflix suggestions. It wasn't an American documentary, which sort of added an interesting angle to it as well as it'll often feel like most LGBT-related documentaries seem to be American in nature and thus very US-centric. This one follows a more international crew with gay men from many different parts of the world all on a single cruise ship.

This felt like one of those more low-key documentaries that didn't quite want to push a particular agenda or message. So we get a very slice-of-life approach to things and a heck of a lot of individual interviews as opposed to narration by some unseen observer or something else like that.

Synopsis: Dream Boat is a German documentary directed by Tristan Ferland Milewski. The documentary focuses on the lives of five different men who are on the Dream Boat, a cruise exclusively for gay men.

As the titular Dream Boat includes guests from all around the world, the focus of the documentary is on five men from five different countries with their respective stories. People join the cruise for various reasons whether it's just to have fun, find someone for right now or to find someone to settle down with in the long term.

And we're talking seriously all walks of life regardless of race, skin color, social strata, physical disabilities and so many others. The documentary doesn't dwell too much on what the cruise actually offers or its amenities and instead just tries to look at the life stories of these men and what brought them to the cruise whether this time around or every year that we've come.

What I Liked: The show has some interesting sequences that they use time and time again for their transition shots or to accompany voiceovers. You'd expect it would be more about the beautiful men with their gym-toned bodies or something like that. Instead the shots I loved the most involved a particular bank of elevators that gets visited many times in the film with very different people coming and going in their colorful outfits or other fun stuff.

The inividual stories are quite intruiging and the director made a good decision to really ground his documentary on their stories and not just their experiences on the boat. The movie then becomes a vehicle for discussing the differences in LGBT acceptance in different countries and how people try to cope with all that. Thus the cruise is really just a backdrop to events.

What Could Have Been Better: Because of the diverse nature of the stories of the cruise guests that we follow, the documentary can feel somewhat confusing at times as it's hard to tell people apart based on voiceover alone when they're all speaking different languages and such. More of your attention is on keeping pace witht e subtitles and this can take away from your viewing experience.

And then there's the flip side to things that we don't really know what's goin on with the ship. What is this or that party / event or why are so many people in different theme costumes at this or that point in the movie. You can't get away from wanting to find out more about moments that are quite beautifully shot but never explained.

TL;DR: Dream Boat is less a documentary about life on a gay cruise ship but more about the lives of several gay men who just happen to be on it. You may or may not get invested in every story, but you will walk away with a new appreciation for their struggles. Thus the film gets a good 3.5 muted dance scenes in the movie out of a possible 5.


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