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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Archipelago [DVD]
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on 11 October 2017
The film does not have a script.. which is a shame because although the ad libbing gives a certain realism to the sense of tension between the family members, it could have really done with some jokes.
The cinematography is gorgeous and I actually felt irritated by the actors getting in the way of the views of the Scilly Isles ... especially as the extreme scarcity of the dialogue and the emotional repression of the characters renders them all pretty unlikable.
I just wanted something to happen... they could all get drunk and play charades perhaps....
Unsatisfying. But I think that is probably the point.
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on 6 May 2017
As the other five-star posters have said, this is an excellent film. The 'ad-libness' nature of the dialogue really contributed, I think. It would seem that the one-star posters just don't get it which means that a film which has the merit of a five-star film currently has an average weighting of 3.5 stars (shame).

[Just incidentally, one 'slow' film which I think does not deserve its status as a great film and which SHOULD accurately be described as boring and pretentious is Le Quattro Volte]
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on 1 August 2016
Beautiful scenery, clouded over by the stormy weather inside and outside the house. I found the tension almost unbearable and just wanted Edward to kiss Rose and take her to bed to break the horrendous atmosphere. I'm sure it's been directed to challenge all these feelings and display such an awkward family gathering which it did wonderfully but very depressing all the same.
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on 8 February 2014
The story and plot of the film makes no sense since you can't really figure it out, but the actors are great!
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on 30 May 2014
I am a recent convert to Joanna Hogg and, yes, it was my interest in Tom Hiddleston that led me to her! I have seen "Unrelated", which I enjoyed and "Archipelago" is very much along similar lines. A simple, yet well written and directed portrait of a family holiday. The family in question is about to say goodbye to their son as he is about to embark on an 11 month stint in Africa teaching. The mother and daughter are taking the opportunity to have painting lessons and they are staying in an idyllic cottage in the Scilly Isles. Seemingly awaiting the arrival of the father to complete the family's farewell to their son, they set off doing normal family stuff. A young girl has taken on a job to cook and housekeep for them.

The family are definitely well-to-do. Don't watch this if you can't stand watching films about people you perceive to be in a class you don't like! But the acting is very good; the treatment of the situation and the deterioration in the relations during the holiday is well thought out and I believe there will be more than a few of you that can relate to the cracks that start to show, as well as the very different attitudes within the family unit as to how they should treat their employees.

For those of you who want Gods in green and black leather, or Princes fighting on horseback - do not expect any of that here. It is a sedate perambulation and nothing much actually physically happens. A thinker's film, if you like.
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on 12 September 2017
Wonderfully understated exploration of family tensions and alienation: the story is told almost entirely through images, fragmanets of improvised dialogue, through what is not said, cannot be explored: it's like a minimalist version of Woody Allen's "Interiors" or one of Berman's less fraught family dramas. Acting, photography and direction are superb. Perhaps the lingering shot where little or nothing happens, that being the point, becomes something of a mannerism and it's a pity Rose's warmth wasn't developed just a touch to counterbalance the grim reading of human relationships in a dysfunctional family. Sentimentality can include unrelieved gloominess.

But such a refreshing rejection of the trite melodrama we're used to on British television!
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on 3 December 2011
The extremely mixed reviews here on amazon and elsewhere immediately flag up 'Archipelago' as a film which really divides opinions in the direction of one star out of five - or five. It's certainly quite extreme, in its own way, in style and (some would say lack of) content, and at a surface level it is short on action, being about a fairly uneventful family holiday on the Isles of Scilly, with a mother, her two children, their cook (!) and an artist friend just hanging out, going on walks, etc. The beauty of the film, though, and the reason it completely held my attention throughout, was in the absolutely pared down direction and editing, and the feeling that there was plenty going on in these characters' emotional lives - which, being British, they find hard to express to one another or resolve.

'Archipelago' reminded me very, very strongly of Eric Rohmer's films and in particular, the substantial number of holiday themed films he made - 'La Collectioneuse', 'Claire's Knee', 'Pauline at the Beach', 'The Green Ray' and 'A Summer's Tale'. Rohmer's films are unlike any other filmmaker's because they are seemingly about very little, but the characters (who, as with 'Archipelago' are often pretty unlikeable) chatter, make (and fail to make) decisions, and by the end, if you like a very slow pace of plotting, you're left with a warm sense of humanity and modest but brilliant filmmaking. Joanna Hogg seems to be deeply influenced by Rohmer in her static camera, interesting landscapes, and the idea that people on holiday are often vulnerable, cut loose from their 'normal' lives, forced to think about who they are and where they are going. There is a lot in that, and here, the son in the family, naive and awkward though he is, is a classic Rohmer hero.

Some people have expressed deep hatred of the film because the family in question are so well to do. I agree that taking your own cook on holiday (and a perhaps-salaried artist to keep mummy company) stretches sympathy and belief, but it seemed to me to be a somewhat clumsy way of simply bringing a broader cast into this chamber piece. I don't think it's fair to say that the characters could generate no empathy just because they were posh.

It's simple enough, I think - if still, painterly films which dwell on well-composed landscapes at great length annoy you, or films which lack many events and have only small passages of dialogue to break them up, then pass this by. Plenty of people have, and will, find it pretentious. But if, like me, you enjoy letting quiet, subtle works wash over you, give it a go. I think it's got something to say about the general lack of direction and difficulty in communicating which many people experience in their lives. I found the film moving and beautifully made.

The Artificial Eye DVD is short of extras and the picture quality, I must say, was not as sharp as usual with AE - but this may be due to the source video.

All in all, highly recommended, provided you know what you are letting yourself in for....
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on 27 May 2011
As a painter, I disagree with the negative comment relating to the 'art talk'. I thought there was a lot of insight here into the business of the accumulation of trying to find the image when involved in making a painting and how that all counts towards how the painting ends up.
I found the austerity of the film beautiful and felt immersed in the real feel of the weather of an island. The fact that the director chooses to use non-actors in some of the roles makes the experience of watching the film like eavesdropping on private lives.
It is a film I would happily watch again,despite the uncomfortableness of the relationships between the central characters.
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on 20 August 2017
Bought this as it was filmed in the Scillies - You don't see anything of the Ccillies other than a couple of trees and lots of blown down leaves - really poor quality filming and who knows what on earth it was about ???? If you are thinking of buying this film don't bother - save your money and go and watch some paint dry somewhere.
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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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