There's a scene in Barton Fink when the troubled writer expresses concern with his lack of forthcoming ideas and his exasperated producer exclaims: 'Wallace Beary. Wrestling picture. What do ya need, a road map?' The same could be said of the Unrelated and Archipelago writer-director Joanna Hogg: 'Upper middle class woes. Strained relationships. Nice shirts. What do ya need, a road map?' While Hogg does tangent into mystery in her new drama, it's pretty much as you were for the most part.
(Albertine) and H (Gillick) are two artists who have lived in the same minimalist house in central London for eighteen years. He would say he's an artist, but he's really a child, dismissing D from his upstairs office like a peasant when he's stuck, or collapsing onto the park grass and refusing to talk because of some imagined slight. She's left to hang out in her downstairs office, staring out of windows and pretty much enjoying every last moment she can in her beloved house before they sell it.
owever, as Hogg lets time amble forward to the moving date, seemingly in real time such is the snail's pace, exploration of D's personality finds a troubled soul. Yes, he wants marriage on his terms but she's just as odd and distant as him. She's imprisoned herself in this house, locked herself inside this jail of urban noise; road works, building sites, car alarms, and H's chair moving across the wooden floor upstairs are designed to oppress and truncate the living space. The blinds of her office serve as bars.
ogg's films exist in the spaces between the narrative – what characters are not saying and not doing speak volumes – which might explain the long passages of silence. Inviting us into some sections of their private world – we're witnesses to a late night masturbation – we're inexplicably shut out of others, like when an itchy H springs out of his seat late one night and takes off into the street with a worried D saying, 'I'm afraid it’s like the last time,' as she skips after him. What this episode is, and what happened last time, is deliberately kept from us.
hat might frustrate but you're not watching a Joanna Hogg film for clean answers and this exploration of a character's malaise remains oddly interesting throughout.