Archipelago is a group of scatted islands in a large body of water, or in the case of Joanna Hogg’s latest film Archipelago (2010) it refers to a family group. The film examines the stresses between a group of bourgeois kinfolk on holiday in Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. The family is comprised of Mother Patricia (Kate Fahy) and grown up brother and sister Edward (Tom Hiddleston) and Cynthia (Lydia Leonard). The reason they have been gathered together at this particular time is to say a bon voyage to the rather wet Edward, who is about to embark on a year’s sabbatical as an aid worker in Africa. Their father, whom we never see, is absent and only involved with the other members of the family via telephone conversations. A bond grows between the pretty young Rose (Amy Lloyd), who has been hired as the family cook at the house where they’re all staying, and Edward, much to the irritation of the other members of the family. Also in attendance within this condescending group is Christopher (Christopher Baker) a painter who only function is to give tips to Mother and Cynthia on landscape painting.
Joanna Hogg used to spend Easter on the Island and sometimes stay in the house where the film was shot, lets hope her stays there where not as traumatic as the one depicted in her movie.
This intense drama is a cold look at a British upper middle class family who seem incapable of revealing any warmth towards each other. The credits are shared between non-actors (Baker and Lloyd) and the professionals and the film demonstrates typical Hogg trademarks: long held static shots, no music and the impression that the dialogue is improvised. An understated art house film made for art house film lovers but one that’s never tedious.