Credit Strand Releasing
“Dream Boat,” Tristan Ferland Milewski’s documentary about a weeklong European cruise for gay men, quickly gets its audience into a vacation mood. It begins with passengers boarding the luxury ship in flip-flops and tank tops. A pair in nautical outfits greets old friends with kisses and champagne glasses. The chatter in the promenade grows as small crowds become a large sea of excited smiles.
Soon, the camera moves from just gazing at passing strangers to focusing on specific men in the international crowd. There’s a passenger from India on his first gay cruise, a Frenchman with disabilities who’s determined to have a good time, a Polish man searching for a soul mate, a Palestinian who’s moved to Belgium and the hot Austrian photographer everyone poses for. Although we don’t yet know their names, the men start to emerge through their stories.
These subjects have been gleaned from a group of largely white Adonises. Mr. Milewski does not directly address race and ethnic background, but clearly has some serious issues in mind. He asks different passengers their thoughts on love, H.I.V. status and the looks-obsessed mainstream gay culture. Although the repeated questions are narratively obtrusive, the men’s voices broaden this experience beyond its escapist trappings.
Some of the tougher interviews suggest that Mr. Milewski would like “Dream Boat” to be more substantial, but that impulse is mostly kept at bay in favor of lighter scenes, like high-heel races around the pool, costume ball preparations and all-night dance parties that give way to poolside flirting. The need to capture so many different perspectives dilutes the intensity of some of the men’s feelings of loneliness and fear of rejection.