Boat Story review – Daisy Haggard’s hilariously dark drama is worthy of Tarantino or the Coen brothers
Daisy Haggard's success story amidst the gloom is a rare spark of hope that reminds us of good things in life. After her role as the lamentable Myra Licht in Episodes came to an end about four to five years ago, she has been a pivotal figure in two emotionally complex dramedies - namely, Breeders and Back to Life (the latter of which she co-created and co-wrote). Now, she stars alongside Paterson Joseph in Boat Story, a six-episode series with a plain title that masks a brilliant blend of creativity, flair, and ingenuity that elevates everyone's career profile.
The blog piece was crafted by siblings Jack and Harry Williams who are responsible for bringing us amazing shows like Back to Life as well as creating highly regarded dramas such as The Tourist, Baptiste, and The Missing. Their latest project centers on a basic idea - what will you do upon encountering an undisclosed wealth that is available for the taking?
In this scenario, a boat containing cocaine worth millions of pounds was found washed up on the shore of a town located in the northern coast of England. The smuggler, who was captaining the boat, was murdered by a dishonest police officer after experiencing a wave of karma that caused him to stumble and fatally injure himself on a protruding object.
Samuel, who is a lawyer that works with criminals, and Janet, a factory employee, came across a boat. While Janet thought it was best to inform the authorities, Samuel had a different idea. He told Janet that this was an opportunity given to them by fate.
Two important pieces of information stand out. Firstly, Samuel irresponsibly lost all of his money by gambling and sold his house and transferred his job without telling his wife, all in an effort to repay his debts. Secondly, Janet suffered a tragic industrial accident which led to her losing her fingers and her manager unfairly denied her compensation. This raises further inquiries. Is Janet entitled to a break after her misfortune? Is Samuel deserving of sympathy in his situation? Are we owed anything by the universe? How much stress can our moral values handle before they begin to waver?
In a more realistic sense, it's doubtful that you could obtain such a large amount of cocaine without arousing suspicion or having someone, even the original owner, become aware of it. The scene quickly changes to a men's clothing store in Paris where we are introduced to the Tailor (played by Tchéky Karyo, also known as Baptiste), who appears to be a refined gentleman but is actually a ruthless drug dealer. We witness him engaging in extremely brutal acts of violence, resulting in the torture and murder of those who have wronged him. These scenes are almost unbearable to watch.
After that, it becomes more interesting, mysterious, and even more thought-provoking. The storyline reminds you of some brilliant filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson (specially the way they depicted the protagonist, Janet, as a woman having blue hair on her way to Thursday), and the Coen brothers. They have this amazing skill to blend different genres of movies which really catches your attention. They do this with such ease that it does not feel like a cheap trick and coalesces the whole show into a masterpiece.
Things aren't always as they appear. Take for example, when the Tailor comes searching for his lost delivery and instead finds himself smitten with Yorkshire and a baker woman (Joanna Scanlan, who delivers her performance with effortless brilliance). The turns in the story are unforeseeable and make for a captivating and unique experience.
We still haven't reached the part where Phil Daniels shows up as a wannabe writer and previous customer of Samuel. The following play-within-a-play twist is both satisfying and unforeseen. Interestingly enough, the production is actually a musical and it boldly uses rhymes like "insomnia" and "orphan in Bosnia" which, in itself, is worth the cost of entry.
As a person, Joseph is remarkable with his positive outlook and charisma. However, despite his strengths, he is unable to mend the fractures in his life. In her role, Haggard brings Janet to life as written by individuals who recognize her talent to transform regular characters into extraordinary ones. She captivates the audience with Janet's story regardless of the exaggerated situations or skewed moral compass.
The Boat Story handles a dangerous amount of responsibilities, yet manages to handle them with ease. It's a success due to its practicality, understanding, and elegance. I find it impressive and enjoyable. It's proof that we can own and maintain pleasant possessions.