Friday, December 7, 2012


Archipelago is exceptionally well-shot, very well-acted, and filmed with such realism that you could be watching a documentary. It has so much potential, in fact, that I would like to gush about it for the entirety of this review. The catch? The pace is so lethargic that it might put you to sleep if you're not careful.

I know, I know. You've heard this all before. OMG! This movie is so BORING. I almost fell asleep. Zzzzz LMAO! But I can assure you, I am not one of those people who needs Michael Bay CGI masturbation to be entertained. I like drama. I like independent filmmaking.

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.


  1. I haven't heard of this but I'm sure if I was Hiddleston's fangirl I'd watch it in a heartbeat :) Good review!

  2. Great review, Sarah! I did like this film, but like you, I found it a bit too slow. Even by my standards -- *LOL* -- and I love slow, naturalistic movies. And there were various things, like the artist's ruminating on aesthetics, that puzzled me -- I didn't quite know how they fit in. And I found all the long shots a bit distracting.

    I noticed the shots got closer as we got to know the characters a bit better. I thought that was an interesting device. I was also intrigued by the use of colors -- muted blues and earth tones. A very visually artistic movie.

    For me, I think this film might be one of those that benefits from a second viewing.

  3. Great review! I attempted to find this awhile back because of Hiddleston, but I never could. I'm glad you reviewed it.

  4. If you don't connect with the film, then I could imagine it could be a boring watch. I really enjoyed it, despite it being a bit slow-paced, because I could relate to the predicament.


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