19 March 2011

Film Review: Archipelago [dir. Joanna Hogg; 2010]

How refreshing to watch a film where the camera moves only if it has to, where the editing allows each scene to develop in a way that feels completely unforced and where the performances are of a standard so high, you forget that the actors are acting. Having said all that, Archipelago probably won't be to everyone's tastes. Some will disparagingly call it slow: its plot revolves around little more than the relationships between various family members as they 'enjoy' a holiday on the Isles Of Scilly. But the wealth of detail in its observations of human behaviour makes it one of my favourite films of the year so far. Regardless of whether it carries the sort of social significance for which many critics have praised it - it's a rare example of a serious English movie about (shock horror) the middle classes - it is an intelligently constructed piece of work in which Hogg displays an impressive command of her craft, especially when it comes to knowing how to frame an image. By showing us, say, the bottom of a flight of stairs whilst a mother and daughter are having a row on the first floor, or a back garden whilst there's an awkward situation inside the kitchen, she pulls us into her story with enviable ease and confidence. And she gives us one of the most delicious restaurant scenes I've seen for years.

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