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.