Overview: Two women who grew up together discover they have drifted apart when they retreat to a lake house together. IFC Films; 2015; Unrated; 90 Minutes.
A Worthy Ode to Persona: Two women attempt to go on a vacation to ignore the troubles of society, but their idyllic fantasy cannot mask their dread. The lake house, Queen of Earth‘s predominant setting, is a pressure cooker. The women, their audience, and the various characters that venture into the story are forced to fend for themselves in a place where the woes of the privileged – slight at best – are all that truly matter. And although the material of their respective troubles are, at times, confounding and disoriented, we never forget the weight behind them. A soundtrack of dissonant noises and intrusive cinematography turn the large and picturesque home into a claustrophobic nightmare. Tension floods every scene. It is uncomfortably beautiful. It is a nightmare that demands to be experienced.
Succeeding Bergman: Director Alex Ross Perry gives us two portraits of two women, Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) and Virginia (Katherine Waterston), as they both come to terms with their relationships. The two proclaim themselves to be the best of friends, and though they bicker about trivial things like best friends often do, there is something caustic and piercing in their words. However, the narrative construction of the film isn’t always functional, but rather confusing and, at times, pointless. There are scenes that drag the focus away from the story, disrupt the audience’s engagement. Queen of Earth shows a debilitating brand of confidence with its far too seamless editing of time, which blurs the lines between present and past, and makes the events a bit hard to connect.
Two Queens of Earth: Moss and Waterston’s enchanting performances are vital to the construction of this film. They make drawn out pacing methodical rather than slow. Both exemplify the nuances that make their characters seem so different, but similar on separate levels. The two actresses don’t hold back at times; the two actresses show great restraint at times. Either way, their performances keep our eyes focused on our screen. They do not let us look away.
Overall: Queen of Earth is the year’s sleeper horror flick, the one that does not allow its true intentions to be known until it has already stabbed its hooks into the viewer’s unwitting psyche.