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Thursday 19 May 2011

Archipelago, Film/Drama, written and directed by Joanna Hogg, 3.75* out of 5

This film is a subtle, tense and at times, comic portrait of an upper middle class family holiday on the Isles of Scilly. Patricia (Kate Fahy) is joined by her grown up children, Edward (Tom Hiddleston) and Cynthia (Lydia Leonard). The holiday appears to have been prompted by Edward's announcement that he is about to quit his recently embarked upon job in the City (London's Financial District) in order to teach children in Africa how to avoid infection with HIV aids.

Edward is quite uncertain about his own decision. He gives the impression to be generally unsure about everything he does, possibly hoping to solicit the care and attention of attractive women. Patricia professes half-hearted support to Edward's plan, while Cynthia who has organised her life in line with the implied demands of her parents, finds Edward is acting irresponsibly. Moreover she is none to pleased that his self-indulgent behaviour gives him more tender family care and attention than she gets for a successful career and the ability to look after herself financially.

The grand absent, is Edward's and Cynthia's dad. He phones his wife regularly to be brought up to date and promise that he will join the rest of the family soon. One suspects that he has sent his wife into battle on his behalf to persuade Edward to give up his silly idea. Edward, Cynthia and Patricia remember him from time to time through side remarks and through Edward's imitations.

The family takes painting lessons from a local artist and a young student cooks for them. Edward finds her interesting and attractive and tries to disrespect the customary class borders between the family and their staff and service providers.

Archipelago is a subtle and successful portrait of English upper middle-class family relations. Pregnant silences, avoidance of embarrassment and upset, occasional outbursts are very truthfully put together in a kind of documentary style. Strong acting performances contribute to a high quality film experience. Amy Lloyd, the cook, is actually a cook who once studied acting for a few months. So amateur and professional acting and professional cooking blend into a quiet, subtle and enjoyable English family portrait.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Family Portraits