A Rohmerian observation/character study, Archipelago plays to two of the great constants of the British psyche: class-based social anxiety & a kind of tightly wound comedy of embarrassment. Hogg could've been merciless in her evisceration of these characters & the personal dilemmas that extend from lives of contented privilege, but the film nonetheless recognises them as human beings, & engages with them accordingly.
This might be the worst movie I've ever seen. I had to tell my girlfriend and her friend to leave the cinema, because they were laughing so much, leaving me sitting there in the doom of boredom which is this so called movie. Every aspect of this flick is totally meaningless, the acting is inane, the script anemic, the photography worse than what a sedated teenager with an iPhone could have done. Pathetic.
It still has the intense fly-on-the-wall honesty of Unrelated, its provocative framing, landscapes and clipped editing that encourages participation. It is marred here by a cringe factor reminiscent of Ostlund, the supreme discomfort of white privilege alleviating its guilt. I'm not opposed to this, but Hogg again includes a revelation to make the behaviour sympathetic or explained and I felt neither effect.
Although hard to dismiss the summary of it by Stewart Lee, who called it "an art film about middle-class people on a disappointing holiday", this is a good film from writer-director Joanna Hogg that benefits from a selection of fine performances from the central cast members.
Captures upper class futility and anxiety, it's search for purpose and meaning. Can understand certain complaints about the film being boring (though the film's distance and lack of eventfulness are crucial) but I don't agree with any criticisms regarding the middle-upper class family subject, of which Hogg is overwhelmingly critical and draws much from. Some brilliant moments of outbursts and awkwardness.
It's been criticised in some quarters largely for its focus on the upper-middle class (a taboo subject in British cinema?), but these complaints may distract from the forensic skill with which Joanna Hogg tears apart unvoiced family resentments and hypocrisies. A family clan tries to force its own unity, despite an estranged father, a disliked girlfriend and a sea of anxieties. A film about annoyingly real people.
A very clear direction and a great cast fill this otherwise lifeless island with a beautiful story about family, class, art and other themes that are common throughout Hogg´s filmography. Tom Hiddleston shines in his role without ever taking the spotlight away from the other characters. Like in her other films Hogg uses the setting of the island and the vacation home to give a better understanding of the story.
A masterful piece of cinematographic realism! What struck me is the limited understanding the family members have to each other. Their vacation on the island works like a microscope. Old routines, identities and stories flare up, but not all in the open. The two strangers (the painter and the cook) work for the viewers like mirrors, however with a limited view on the family story that appears full of riddles.
If you like slow-paced interrogations of bourgeois angst, this is the film for you. There is plenty to admire in the direction and cinematography (it is quite an achievement to have so many outdoor scenes in a wild landscape and yet still create a stifling sense of claustrophobia). However, the characters are so narcissistic and unlikeable that the film never strays closer than an icy distance.