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Archipelago

The second film by British director Joanna Hogg is subtle, mysterious, murky and utterly distinctive. By Peter Bradshaw

Like unhappy little islands, entire of themselves, some lonely people cluster together for an unsuccessful family reunion in this deeply intelligent new film from British director Joanna Hogg. There is something exacting and audacious in it, something superbly controlled in its composition and technique. The clarity of her film-making diction is a marvel – even, or perhaps especially, when the nature of the story itself remains murkily unrevealed.

Hogg works with a series of static "tableau" camera positions. There is no musical soundtrack, just the ambient sound of birdsong or distant aeroplane buzz, only really apparent when it cuts out into silence for the next scene. Closeups are rare, and when the camera does move – just once in the entire film – it is to reflect something calamitous. Perhaps what emerges primarily is Hogg's
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