Reporting from the Denver Film Festival.
The animation is stunning. Fluid lines connect all different styles and textures: pencil drawings, cutouts, and computer-generated images. Some of them are on black backgrounds; some of them overlap archival footage of Montreal—the second-largest French-speaking city in the universe—and the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago.
Over these images, a stream of consciousness narration. Sometimes it’s ideas and musings snatched from the flow. Sometimes, it’s diary entries. There’s even a running discussion between the main narrator (Florence Blain Mbaye) and a male voice (Mattis Savard-Verhoeven). The components are abstract, fragments of larger vignettes maybe, that feel like they were disassembled, jumbled, and then spread out at random.
Written and directed by Félix Dufour-Laperrière, Archipelago uses narration that doesn’t necessarily inform the images, and images that don’t necessarily illustrate the narration. Instead, the two aim to create a third layer, one unique to itself. An interesting approach, but it feels disconnected and distracting more than anything else.
Archipelago is playing the Denver Film Festival on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and on Friday, Nov. 12 at 4:45 p.m. Also available on DFF’s virtual platform.