Tides (3 stars)


Debut director Tupaq Felber helms an authentic yet oblique tale of grief and friendship

Arriving in the wake of Carlos Marques-Marcet's Anchor and Hope, which used the meandering canals of Britain as a metaphor for the complexities of modern relationships, Tupaq Felber's accomplished feature debut – co-written with members of its primary cast – similarly turns a boat trip into a journey of grief and recovery. But whereas Marques-Marcet's film was full of churning storylines and frothy drama, Tides takes a more leisurely approach to its story; although, as we come to learn, still waters run deep.

With Jon (Jon Foster) having suffered an unexplained tragic event, his friends – and fellow actors – Simon (Simon Meacock), Zooby (Jamie Zubairi) and Red (Robyn Isaac) take him on a three-day canal boat holiday. While he seems to be enjoying himself, Jon is clearly struggling and his friends are unsure how best to help him. His grief remains the elephant in the room, until, in a cathartic, climactic scene, it finally bubbles to the surface.

As we spend time with this entertaining foursome, smoking, drinking and bantering as only old friends can, it may seem as if this narrative is drifting without anchor. Yet small, well-placed moments hint at the very real emotion beneath – offering chinks into Jon's inner turmoil and the well-meaning helplessness of his friends, as they remain unsure about whether to confront the issue head-on, or ignore and talk around it, in the hope they can prove a distraction.

As the barge slowly makes its way upstream, the film's meandering, oblique and ultra-realist nature may frustrate some viewers – a fact Felber acknowledges in a galley dinner sequence (reminiscent in some ways of the seminal USS Indianapolis speech scene in Jaws) in which Jon, Simon and Zooby discuss the human need to create order out of seemingly unconnected events. But, while Tides may not make for the most obviously dramatic of films, its portrayal of the realities of long-term friendship is charmingly authentic.

Selected release from Fri 7 Dec.


  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • UK
  • Directed by: Tupaq Felber
  • Cast: Jon Foster, Simon Meacock, Jamie Zubairi, Robyn Isaac
  • UK release: 7 December 2018

A group of friends go on a canal boat holiday after one of them (Foster) has suffered an unexplained tragic event. Leisurely, accomplished feature debut, not very dramatic but with a charmingly authentic portrayal of the realities of long-term friendship.