Tuesday, 1 May 2012


Over the past few years, I haven't watched as many movies as I would have liked.   Honestly, where was the time?   I've made an effort to get back to watching more films, especially at the cinema.   It's the way films were meant to be experienced.   I've seen some excellent ones recently, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and War Horse, both at the cinema.  

A few nights ago, though, I settled down in the comfort of my own home by necessity.   I further justified my purchase of a region-free DVD player by watching the British independent film, Archipelago.   As the poster explains:

1. n. --a group of scattered islands in a large body of water
2. a film by Joanna Hogg, director of Unrelated

The summary on the DVD case is perfect, so I'll just share it:

After the unanimous acclaim received from her debut feature (Unrelated), director Joanna Hogg returns to similar themes in this sharply ovserved and often comical exposure of a middle class family at breaking point.

With her son Edward (Tom Hiddleston--Unrelated) about to embark on a volunteer trip to Africa, his mother gathers the family together for a getaway in their holiday home on the idyllic Tresco, one of the Isles of Scilly.   However, it's not long until deep fractures within the family begin to surface.

It's a quietly brilliant film.   I was in awe of the whole work--the perfection of the title and its double meaning for the family members, the acting which required the actors to portray their characters in mundane conversation and activities which must be so difficult to realistically portray, and the pacing, along with use of silence to add to the viewer's participation in the strain of the characters.   The acting still astounds me; it's as if you are just the proverbial fly on a wall, witnessing this family interacting in the ordinary moments of life.   It is so natural and you almost feel yourself straining against a door for a better listen or pulling back a curtain for a closer glimpse.

I know the feeling this movie manages to capture.   The strain of family gatherings and the reversion to childhood, even though you're an adult.   I would walk in my father's nursing home room, as he lay there, bedridden, unable to speak, and I would revert to a child, even though I was a grown woman with children of my own.   I actually wish I had been as free as these characters to show my emotions and thoughts (which really means something if you see this film)!   I spent most of my life pretending to be a perfect family on the outside and I was darn good at it.   We all were.   Mama tried to make things the best she could--within her control--and often I put on a smile just for her because she already had so much to handle.    After she passed away, the cracks began to show and even more beneath the surface, that of which I was unaware, was brought to my attention.   Mama was a guardian of many things, including the familial closet skeletons and with her gone, these things became visible.   I can remember watching as many tv shows as I could find that dealt with dysfunctional families (although aren't they all, just to different degrees?).  I found this movie was strangely comforting in its discomfort.

It made me think and hope that my children feel free to be themselves within the walls of our home and within our family.   I hope they feel free to express their hurt, doubts, just feelings in general.   Such an open, welcoming family/home is a much greater desire for me than imagined perfection.

The trailer for Archipelago gives viewers a very good feel for this quiet, moving film.  "Edward, your face is in the sun."   "Sorry."   (That's me--always apologizing for everything, even those things out of my control--old habit)

So any local Indie-movie-loving friends out there, feel free to come over and watch it on my region-free player.   But no lobster.   And no guinea fowl.  

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