by Adam Riske
Queen of Earth is one of those movies you watch and know immediately that it has been made by a born-filmmaker. Alex Ross Perry (The Color Wheel, Listen Up Philip) has put together one hell of a movie. The direction of the acting, the shot selection, the cinematography (and choice of film stock), the music etc. – it all works. And yet, something’s missing with Queen of Earth and I can’t find myself embracing it. Maybe I’m not supposed to. It’s one of those frustrating movies for me where I’m left “WTF” and frantically trying to process my feelings about it as I write. This leaves me with a question: Can I recommend a movie on technical merits alone even though it left me cold and I never want to see it again? I respect the hell out of Queen of Earth but my good feelings about it end there. It didn’t add up for me into a rewarding or pleasant viewing experience.
Having not been a viewer of Mad Men, my relationship with Elisabeth Moss as an actress is limited although I was impressed by her work in last year’s underrated relationship drama The One I Love. That performance is nothing compared to her work in Queen of Earth. Moss is asked to run a marathon of emotions and every moment rings true. It’s the type of performance that should be studied in acting classes. Katherine Waterston was one of the best parts of last year’s Inherent Vice (a movie I did not warm to on the whole) and her work here continues to show her range and chops. She reminds me a lot (not only in appearance) to Jennifer Jason Leigh. She plays characters that are intelligent, conniving and a bit mysterious. Her performance playing off of Moss is pure acting gamesmanship. These are two women who are friends but really have no business being friends. Their relationship is toxic and both actresses take their opportunities to portray very meaty characters and end up creating something memorable. Also very good (in a supporting role) is Patrick Fugit, who is best known as the young journalist from Almost Famous. He’s a completely different person here than in that movie and he is truly excellent. On a scene to scene basis, Queen of Earth really works because you’re seeing powerful, skilled performances speaking the words of a quality writer (also Alex Ross Perry).
The movie is now available on VOD and in limited release in theaters.
*Check out the trailer. It’s pretty terrifically put together. I love the voiceover and stylistic choices employed, many of which carry over into the movie.
"It’s what the movie adds up to where I have my problem. The tone of Queen of Earth makes the movie feel like the end of the world and yet the denouement comes across as too small for what has preceded it."ReplyDelete
That is the brilliance of this movie and exactly what worked for me. Blew me away in every aspect.
It's a good movie regardless of my issues with it. Hopefully that came across in the review.Delete
Oh, absolutely, man. I hope my comment wasn't making you think the contrary.Delete
No worries yo!Delete
This looks really interesting. Hopefully it will play in a theatre near me soon (Atlanta). I may end up having to watch it on VOD though if it never comes here. The trailer makes me think of the film Persona, thematically and visually.ReplyDelete
Yep, that's a great comparison.Delete
I think Queen of Earth is a deeply compassionate movie with a sincere moral message, though it is something of an 'emotional revenge' story. The lesson is that it's too easy to slip into a state where you believe your problems are the only ones that matter, and that while being in that state, you hurt other people without even realizing it. While the movie and the characters are constantly acidic, even borderline cruel, the point of it all is to be a reminder that friendship is a necessity if a person is to remain sane, and that healthy friendships require both effort and empathy.ReplyDelete
That is really well put. I couldn't figure out a way to comment on the film without "spoilers" but you somehow managed to do so.Delete
Sorry, but I thought this movie was absolute shit. Boring, went nowhere, with dull and utterly detestable characters who I wouldn't want to spend five minutes with. And don't give me the whole, "You just don't 'get' art films" bullshit. My favorite film of all time is Blue Velvet. This thing was pure crap, nothing more, and maybe a little less.ReplyDelete
Do not watch. Waste of time. Plllllease. spoiled girl acts spoiled. other girls acts like other girl. barfReplyDelete
Brilliant review Eliz. me me likes Blue Velvet, guys. That long take was as good as it gets. Both women are great. Moss is really on a completely other level. The sound gives this ever-growing sense of dread. My only issue might be theReplyDelete