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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Live, as We Dream, Alone
The reviews of this film are for me almost as interesting as the film itself; especially the negative ones, as there seems to be a wish to expose the film as an "emperor's new clothes" phenomenon, and to go beyond subjective criticism of the film itself in order to characterise those who have expressed a positive opinion as either wilfully misleading or bamboozled by the...
Published on 1 Aug 2011 by wabrit

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly mundane, but... sort of compelling
I don't really know what to think of Archipelago, I didn't have any negative feelings towards it, but despite the presence of some positive ones I don't know if I could claim to have 'liked' it. It's one of, if not the least cinematic film I've ever watched. It doesn't so much have a narrative as simply a series of situations in this family's holiday and the mundane...
Published 24 months ago by Joseph Coyle


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Live, as We Dream, Alone, 1 Aug 2011
By 
wabrit (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
The reviews of this film are for me almost as interesting as the film itself; especially the negative ones, as there seems to be a wish to expose the film as an "emperor's new clothes" phenomenon, and to go beyond subjective criticism of the film itself in order to characterise those who have expressed a positive opinion as either wilfully misleading or bamboozled by the desire to appear arty or pretentious. The need to attack holders of a contrary view, and to congratulate each other on having "found out" the film, might say something more about the reviewers themselves than the inherent qualities (or otherwise) of the film.

So (getting off the fence) I really liked this film, and I admire Joanna Hogg for producing an original and thought-provoking chamber piece; setting a contemporary drama (as she did with her previous film Unrelated) amongst the upper middle classes is going to be a red rag to a bull for some, and I think the reviews just go to show that class still plays a fairly large role in the nation's psyche.

As the title suggests, the characters in the film are lost in their own familial and personal archipelago, cast off from each other like the isles of Scilly through their inability to communicate emotionally; money and the benefits of a privileged upbringing are no guarantees to happiness.

That being said, there's no doubt the film is not "fast", nor does it wear its dramatic heart on it's sleeve (but anyone who's sat in hideous embarrassment around a dinner table while a blazing row takes place in the next room will be getting their moneys' worth of angst during this film), and neither does it attempt to show off Tresco as a desirable holiday destination. If you like slow-burning drama, and a British film that isn't afraid to take a road less travelled, then you might like this.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly mundane, but... sort of compelling, 16 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
I don't really know what to think of Archipelago, I didn't have any negative feelings towards it, but despite the presence of some positive ones I don't know if I could claim to have 'liked' it. It's one of, if not the least cinematic film I've ever watched. It doesn't so much have a narrative as simply a series of situations in this family's holiday and the mundane conversations, or quite often lack of conversations, they have throughout. What compelled me to watch the whole film was the realism of the interactions, the relatability of the inconsequential dialogue and its regular awkwardness, the time given to an awkward lack of interaction, these aspects made it seem like a fly on the wall documentation of a families experiences and I found it interesting to watch the relationships. Things occured and no-one had changed or achieved anything by the end of it. I imagine it was the equivalent of spending a week rudely watching and listening to some strangers staying at the same holiday resort as you, except one of them is Tom Hiddleston.
And thats it really, I find it hard to work out the benefit of its existence, it didn't affect me, move me, make me laugh, there's little genuine drama, it's just there. Often simple or unenventful stories or situations are elevated in film by interesting cinematography, editing, music or... something, but here, no. Any directorial style that is present is as mundane as the subject (I think it might actually have been directed by a simple robotic system), the camera just sits there doing nothing but acting simply as a tool with which to see this family and their surroundings, again making it seem more like a fly on the wall/documentary experience. There is no soundtrack, or if there was I don't remember it. The editing is as simple as it gets. Reading positive reviews, I get the impression a lot of people are reading far too much into this film than is at all necessary. The opinion seems to be circulating that this film is 'artistic', but, as an artist and a film maker myself, I found the distinct lack of artistry on display a bit irritating. But it seems like people find artistry in every possibly conceivable thing or combination of things in the modern world, and not everyone can find it in the same things or combination of things, so presumably some can find artistry in an absence of things or a combination of things. So just because I don't find artistry in something lacking in noticeable style or substance doesn't mean nobody else will.
This film is a slice of plain white bread, without any butter or anything on it, just literally the bread on its own, it hasn't got the seeds and nuts of wholemeal or granary bread, nor has it any added ingredient that elevates a slice of bread to something of pleasure. Sure, it is competently baked, it's a solid product and if you really think about it you can appreciate the fact that someone has spent some time making it. Certainly if you eat it you will experience flavour and it will provide your body with sustenance, it is food after all. I've known people to like eating plain unaccompanied white bread and I've got no problem with that. The thing is, as a meal it's neither going to fill you up or leave much taste in your mouth or your memory afterwards.
A toaster, some butter and some lemon curd would have really made this film something.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Archipelago, 20 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
I love films that are slow paced and give time for thought- but this is too self-consciously slow and seems to have little depth.
Great views of the island though and a beautiful house - but the characters had too little going on to keep you mesmerised.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conditional access, 5 Aug 2012
By 
W. Rodick (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
Archipelago is not a wonderful film. It is one of the few films that dares to analyse the middle-class mindset. It is an intriguing portrayal of loneliness. Be prepared to visit a cold climate of angst.

A family holiday is a rented house in a baron landscape. A painter is hired to assist them with their artistic bent. A young female cook supplements her income as their cook/housemaid. Pheasant are killed especially for them. Two lobsters are also caught for 35 without so much as a pause in the sale. We don't see the fisherman hand over the 5 change. Such things are completely unimportant. And taken for granted.

The layers of the film are to be enjoyed. The painter provides 'chaos.' The juxtaposition of art and life is rendered through words and pictures. The telephone in the confined corner is a masterstroke. As are the doors, the pale shades of walls and the missing painting. When the family each in turn say good-bye to the house I see and hear lives as empty as the restaurant they all dined at. Just once.

Only the painter has an unconditional relationship but that is with his creative spirit. The cook is strong enough to step aside. It is the family who have suffered as individuals. Never been loved. Their relationships conditional, disciplined and defined. A change of scene, equally well ordered, is their only form of hope.

Can I recommend this film? It is up to you. I enjoy original filmmaking which keeps me watching, wondering. Thinking after the facts. With time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Straight to charity !, 16 April 2014
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This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
Bought this on the strength of Unrelated which was a superb film, but my was this disappointing .I think ms. Hogg summed it up in the extras on unrelated ,when she said that sometimes having a bigger budget for her next film was a concern .Well I think that this film goes on to prove her own point ,so as I say straight to the charity shop for this dvd ,sorry Joanna .
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both soothing and unsettling - a brilliant film, 2 Sep 2013
By 
Marie (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
The first time I saw this was at the cinema and I recall I was beginning to lose patience. Then, some time later, when I came across it on the tv, I was so compelled to watch it through again - and have since seen it twice more. I certainly feel this is one of the best British films made. I love the atmosphere, the location, the mood (which is consistent and eerily evolving at the same time). The acting is incredibly 'real' - each time I find myself believing that Cynthia must actually be like that in real life - I don't know how anyone could play that character so well, unless she actually were her; I feel like I've met this person before. The restaurant scene is funny and awkward, embarrassing and pompous...and utterly believable.

Lots of British films seem to be unnecessarily 'gritty' (probably trying to have an edge over Hollywood movies) and contain inexplicably misogynistic characters, so I tend to avoid British films at the cinema. This film is just brilliant to me; the heaviness of the relationships between the characters, as well as each of their personal struggles, which are hinted at (nothing is over-played in this film, of course), e.g. mother's anxiety, son's career path, daughter's self-doubt/anger, father's nonchalance, is what makes the film transcend the too-posh-to-relate-to danger, without turning into some sort of irritating melodrama.

It's a calm and significant film you can enjoy many times by yourself, without trying to make others watch it, i.e. some films depend on telling your friends how good it is and their endorsement of how good it is, etc.; this film you can love for its own sake...altho' in writing this, I suppose I'm asking others to see it...but actually I'm not; I just wanted to write how much I love it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my Favourites but not for Everybody., 27 May 2012
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This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
I have now watched Archipelago three times- which i'm sure some people who gave it one star will find hard to accept!- and i can definitely say it's in my top 5 films. It's not the kind of film everyone will enjoy though, if you like films like Hunger and Take Shelter or films based around the family dynamic then i think you should enjoy this subtle and ambiguous portrayal of family life. It is very slow moving and contains a lot of long steady shots. In fact there is only one shot in the movie where the camera moves- everything else is static.

Personally, after the first 20 minutes or so, i found the film completely compelling and mesmerising. I know a few people have said they turned it off by this point but i'm not one to give up on films and the beauty of the shots kept me watching anyway. I loved how it seemed so spontaneous and unrehearsed- it didn't feel like anyone had learned any lines or was hitting any marks. Throughout the film i felt more like i was a spy in someone's home, it felt like i was watching a fascinating doecumentary and i didn't want it to end. The tension in some scenes was almost unbearable and it was so relatable and tangible- i could easily empathise with Edward(Tom Hiddleston) in the restaurant scene. My own sister probably would've reacted in exactly the same way as Cynthia(Lydia Leonard) if she'd received food that wasn't to her liking, actually we have been in restaurants where she makes a scene over nothing and i usually feel exactly how Edward seems to feel in this scene- embarrassed and annoyed and just not wanting to get involved at all.

There is no soundtrack at all, only the noises that you'd expect on a quiet island- the sea, the trees, wind and the birds. As for people saying the film made the Scilly islands look dull and dreary, i disagree. I've never been to the islands and after watching this i definitely want to visit them. The weather may not have been amazing during filming but that's not something the director can control. I think the fact that the weather is grey and stormy suits the story too as it reflects the emotions that build to a crescendo within the family.

So overall i adored this delicate film with its sudden outbursts of emotion and i felt it was a very accurate telling of family issues. The acting from everyone involved, particularly Tom Hiddleston(although maybe that's only because i saw a lot of similarities between myself and Edward- i could do with toughening up!- and also because it's such a different character from Loki and Captain Nicholls) was outstanding.

Highly recommended.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guilty Pleasure, 19 Sep 2011
By 
Shades (Regina, Sk, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of Joanna Hogg's direction with film. Really, this is a movie that has been taken from a home video camera and played back to people who want to watch a real life story. There is no plot or drama other than that of a typical household. Just walk down the street and observe a family for a while and you will see the same thing.

HOWEVER, I did find it entertaining. The acting is well done. And for any Tom Hiddleston fan you will of course enjoy his performance. I mean, just look at him. :)
I watched it the first time just to watch it, but I found that I wanted to go back again and rewatch it, and I have rewatched it several times so I think that does say something about how it can be compelling.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kitchen sink stuff in a hired kitchen, with hired kitchen help and dearth of drama, 9 May 2011
By 
Mrs. Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
I chose this film because of the location - Tresco on the Isles of Scilly, and the, to me, interesting set up - a family about to be separated - staying briefly in a rented holiday house.

Theirs is a final get together before the departure of twenty something son Edward who is volunteering for 11 months in Africa to be a modern day missionary -a sexual health advisor. He has a social conscience of sorts and finds it awkward to be waited on by the help (for whom 'it is my job'). Sister C, also grown up, well an adult anyway, and Mother Patricia, so fey, racked and desperate that everyone tip toes around her. A worthy, intense odd chap called Christopher who may be their art teacher, we are never told, appears as part of this group. In fact he is a real life landscape painter who offers courses - Joanna Hogg likes to mix actual people with actors. Rosie the pretty young hired cook from near Silverstone, Northants (why do we need to know this?) provides another outsider despite it being such a family holiday that Edward's girlfriend Chloe cannot be included. Rosie works extremely slowly for a professional cook. The father is clearly occupied elsewhere appearing only in disembodied fashion via the payphone in the hall. There the resemblance to an Agatha Christie house party ends.

Perhaps a diet of too much tv drama and exciting films leads one to imagine that something will happen and very soon. Especially when the cook/chalet girl plays purposefully with her knives. Or when someone runs outside into the weather. This feeling keeps you going for some time until you give up all hope. Our family decided, in kindness rather than with real conviction, that `Archipelago' is an abstract work, not for the main stream. The only bit of symbolism I picked up on was when Edward carefully laid his bicycle to rest over the cook's one. A film that will make people think about what they have seen rather than ever try to entertain.

I just felt immensely sorry for Tresco. Filming took place during the greyest, wettest, wildest, windiest week. Was this a choice? Colour is bleached out, beauty mostly drained away and relentless heavy gloom abounds. Just a couple of scenes do it a meagre justice, a painting lesson between Christopher and Patricia looking at a blue sea with some rocks and the occasional bicycle ride in dry daylight. Helicopters clatter overhead reminding you that nowhere is totally peaceful now, everywhere has to be within reach of the people who stay in this holiday house. If however the weather had been different this film could have been lifted up completely. Bright sunshine, blue sky, white beaches, vibrant colour in the gardens, wow that would have made it a pleasure to sit through anyway.

The unfortunate restaurant chosen for the most painful awkward and agonising meal must rue the day they let the cameras in. Ditto the holiday house whose interior was shot in almost permanent shadow, the clattering feet on the wooden staircase drawing groans whenever they appeared again. Volume issues kept the remote control busy. Sometimes the birdsong was ridiculously loud, the waves and wind were headache inducing, the rustle of the sheets deafening but you couldn't hear half of what was said. Then in contrast long moments of silence ran on and on for no purpose. The actors, which they remained throughout, never elevating themselves to characters, seemed to be ad-libbing without any talent for doing so. These are people you would hope never to meet. They are clearly most privileged people, money is not an issue although ambition is discussed. They may exist and in fact might be in some way realistic for the writer and producer of this. But you would hope never to spend time with them. Well perhaps the feisty tormented sister (was she in love with her brother?) or the cook (who the brother hung dripping about like a wet weekend)...

To me `Archipelago' was a misuse of opportunity, time, money and the inkling of a good scenario. Nothing was resolved. If Joanna Hogg was trying to challenge our perceptions, break new ground, make us think, well She Got It Wrong. I hope it was low budget, after all they only had to hire a holiday house and go to a restaurant. One plus was that at least the filming was done with a steady hand even though it was chopped up like a home movie. But try as we did, and we spent a while talking about it together, we just `didn't get it'. When I described the film to my son he quipped 'well no car chases then?' No cars on Tresco!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art for art's sake totally misses the point......, 4 Oct 2012
This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
This is a film about relationships. A wonderful character-study of middle-class family discomfort. It is slow and subtle and some will find it boring and say nothing happens. The guy who says the scenery is underplayed so missed the point it's painful. There is an inferno of angst and insecurity behind their surface interactions. Checkout the brother and the housekeepers relationship and his akwardness. genius. A masterpiece of understatement. Beautifully observed. One of my favourite films of recent years.
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Archipelago [DVD]
Archipelago [DVD] by Joanna Hogg (DVD - 2011)
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