Archipelago (film)

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ARCHIPELAGO Film Poster.jpg
UK cinema release poster for Archipelago
Directed by Joanna Hogg
Produced by Gayle Griffiths
Written by Joanna Hogg
Starring Tom Hiddleston
Kate Fahy
Lydia Leonard
Amy Lloyd
Christopher Baker
Cinematography Ed Rutherford
Edited by Helle Le Fevre
Wild Horses Film Company
Distributed by Artificial Eye (UK)
Release date
  • 22 October 2010 (2010-10-22) (London Film Festival)
  • 4 March 2011 (2011-03-04) (UK & Ireland)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Archipelago is a 2010 British film written and directed by Joanna Hogg about a family holiday on the island of Tresco, which forms part of the archipelago of the Isles of Scilly.


Edward (Hiddleston) is in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. He is quitting his job in the city to travel to Africa, doing volunteer educational work to promote safe sex and combat the spread of AIDS. To see him off, his mother Patricia (Fahy) and sister Cynthia (Leonard) have organised a family holiday and bon voyage party on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly in a cottage they often rented years before. An invitation has also been extended to Patricia's estranged husband, who appears to have expressed the vague intention of coming.

His mother and sister have deemed this a family-only holiday and have forbidden Edward to bring Chloe, his girlfriend, much to his irritation. Even with the exclusion of Chloe, they have nonetheless invited some outsiders: Christopher, a local artist who has been hired to teach Patricia how to paint the beautiful surrounding landscapes, and a professional cook, Rose (Lloyd).

Things start to fall into place and the trip quickly turns into mental crisis, anxiety and resentment. Edward starts to wonder if his mother and sister have created this whole holiday with ulterior motives of their own. He seems all too ready to be talked out of his African plan, because he actually doesn't have the smallest idea what to do with his life and comes close to trying to seduce Rose.

The bitter brother-sister relationship between Edward and Cynthia boils over during the holiday and comes to a head after Edward thinks that not inviting Rose to sit with them at the table is ridiculous, but it is insisted that because Rose has been hired as a cook, asking her to join them would be uncomfortable. To make up for it, they invite her to a restaurant meal, which Cynthia spoils by complaining and making a fuss about the food.

Edward's African trip begins to look unlikely, upstaged by the exotic beauty of the Isles of Scilly. Rose decides to leave earlier than she had planned and instead of saying goodbye, leaves a note in the kitchen which Edward finds. Towards the end Edward and Cynthia reconcile and without ever having seen Patricia's husband, the trio pack up and say goodbye to the house and go back to their everyday lives.



The film was shot on location on Tresco, Isles of Scilly in 2009. It is produced by Wild Horses Films. Several people who live and work on Tresco appear in the film and are credited as themselves.


Archipelago premiered at the Pusan International Film Festival in 2010, and had its UK premiere at the 2010 London Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Film.[1]

It was released in the UK by Artificial Eye on 4 March 2011.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film has been very well received critically.[3][4][5] Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian gave the film five stars.[6] It has provoked much comment and debate, particularly focused on its social setting and distinctive cinematic style.[7][8][9]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Comedian Stewart Lee briefly references Archipelago in his 2012 standup show Carpet Remnant World, where he describes it as "an art film about middle-class people on a disappointing holiday".[10]


  1. ^ McCabe, Joanne (29 September 2010). "London Film Festival 2010: Shortlist for Best Film Award revealed". Metro. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Barraclough, Leo (17 September 2010). "Artificial Eye nabs 'Archipelago'". Variety. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Calhoun, Dave (3 March 2011). "Archipelago Review". Timeout. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  4. ^ French, Philip (6 March 2011). "Archipelago – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev (3 March 2011). "Archipelago, review – Telegraph". The Telegraph. 
  6. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (3 March 2011). "Archipelago – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Pattison, Michael (10 February 2011). "Michael Pattison's idFilm – Commentaries and Contributions". idFilm. 
  8. ^ Leigh, Danny (25 February 2011). "Posh pushovers: why do films squeeze out the middle classes?". The Guardian. 
  9. ^ Cox, David (14 March 2011). "Is Archipelago a class act or an empty gesture?". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ Lee, Stewart (8 Dec 2013). "Scooby Doo Thatcher Routine". Stewart Lee. Retrieved 4 April 2018. 

External links[edit]