I saw Unrelated on dvd recently after seeing Archipelago at the cinema (Joanna Hogg’s second film) and much preferred Unrelated. I think because the lead character of Anna (brilliantly played by Kathryn Worth) is so sympathetic and intriguing. Also it was 90 minutes to Archipelagos 120. There are massive thematic and stylistic similarities however between the films. Both being about middle class holidays with strange unspoken tensions. Both with absent characters – the cause of those tensions and both shot in a formal style in static masters on video, with naturalistic sound and dialogue.
Anna arrives in Tuscany to stay with some friends and their children at their gorgeous villa. She was supposed to be with her husband but he is missing and it is apparent from her sad detached demeanour and one sided phone calls to him that something is up between them. She is attracted to the teenage son of her host Oakley (Tom Hiddleston) and ignores the “olds” in favour of hanging out with him and his friends the “youngs” a group of privelleged teenagers. She seems very much the outsider, an observer not sure where she belongs and without her husband regressing to her adolescence.
I thought it was a really acomplished film and the setting and people are evoked vividly. In the dvd interview Joanna Hogg talks about the lack of these kind of middle class ensemble pieces in British Cinema and how it has always been more of the preserve of the French. I am glad that she has taken it upon herself to redress the balance, because there is an emotional awkwardness and manner of speech specific about the English Middle class that both films show to great effect.