Friday, 13 May 2011

Food on Film: Archipelago

I found Joanna Hogg’s Archipelago (2010), which has just been released on DVD, interested from a food perspective. The film concerns an unhappy family holidaying on Tresco, one of the Scilly Isles. The mother Patricia (Kate Fahy), son Edward (Tom Hiddleston) and daughter (Lydia Leonard) arrive at their holiday home, but the father never shows. They have employed Rose to cook for them throughout their two-week vacation. It’s a slowburing study of the rifts that divide the family.

Professional cook Amy Lloyd plays the part of Rose (she trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before retraining as a chef), while several key scenes in the film revolve around food.

Rose obtains a pair of lobsters from a (real-life) fisherman. He is informative on identifying the sex of lobsters. Edward enters the kitchen while Rose is cooking them. Rose contrasts the torpid lobsters, which are put into cold water so they go into a coma before they boil, with lively ones she has cooked previously that tried to escape from the pan. It sounds like a commentary on the dysfunctional family.

After footage of a pheasant shoot, a (real-life) local turns up at the cottage with a brace for Rose. He is informative on pheasant plucking. Rose plucks and cooks the pheasant. However, Cynthia, who has ben berating her brother, bites some leadshot while eating the meal and storms from the dining room.

Things become even more stressful on a restaurant outing, when Cynthia returns her underdone guinea fowl, thinking it might be dangerous to eat. Everyone else wants to crawl under the table with embarrassment as the chef comes out and explains that the bird is correctly cooked and the meat should be pink.

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