But a film needs to have a hook. A family disintegrating is not a hook. As you and I both know, there are so many depictions of movie families disintegrating that the depiction of the disintegration itself has become a rather ho-hum affair.
Not to say this movie is a completely tepid experience. It's a good three-star movie, well acted, with a very likable performance from Tom Hiddleston (best known as the villainous Loki from Thor and The Avengers) as Edward, an awkward but good-hearted philanthropist. Kate Fahy (the bed-ridden matriarch in The Living and the Dead) plays Edward's mother, Patricia, stretched taut by the strain of her absent husband.
But it is Lydia Leonard (the older sister, Cynthia) who provides the most intense expression of grief and anger half-way through the movie, breaking this serious British family's self-imposed silence.. Cynthia, pushy and nerve-janglingly neurotic reminds me of some of my family, that person who turns a gathering into a familial Hell with their unique combination of anxiety and blame-placing.
But even at one hour forty-nine minutes, this film needs some serious editing. Long conversations meander and go nowhere in particular; scenes of nothing in particular go on entirely too long. This would be okay if these scenes served a purpose, but honestly, I'm not sure they do. They serve as filler, while the film attempts to fulfill its ambitions of high drama.
Now, I'm not telling you whether or not to watch this movie (unlike others, which I would tell you most emphatically to avoid). There is the problem of the slowness, the long, lingering scenes, and the technical issue of the scenes being shot from too far away to see anybody. But, do you know what? That's fine, because Archipelago invokes reality in a way few films do.
And if you're a Thor fan seeking out films with Tom Hiddleston, you might be disappointed, as no Norse Gods come crashing to earth and no epic battles are waged. And Tom isn't trying to destroy the world, just improve it in some small way. And maybe in this context, that is enough.