Thursday, 3 September 2015

REVIEW - QUEEN OF EARTH (ALEX ROSS PERRY)


A young woman's mind encircles itself in a spiral of self-reflexive despair in Alex Ross Perry's equally self-conscious psychological drama. Queen of Earth bears all of the affected mannerisms we've come to expect from Perry as a filmmaker, though none of the excuses he convincingly crafted for them in his last film, Listen Up Philip; Queen of Earth gets by in spite of these mannerisms, buoyed by the simple facts that Perry and his cast and crew know precisely what they're doing and do it well. Even as the film hints toward other features in both its setup and its style - specifically Ingmar Bergman's Persona - it emerges with dignity, and perhaps even favourably, as if operating as a variation on themes suggested by other works. It's not a broad, generous style, though - Queen of Earth is determinedly closed off, confined and claustrophobic like the mind of its protagonist, yet buffered by an aggressive breeze that seems to come from nowhere and everywhere. Stylistically, the film is quite impressive, generating an atmosphere of tension and insecurity engendered from familiar spaces rendered unfamiliar and a soundscape that's perhaps a shade too portentous at times. Essentially, the film's attention is on its actors and their characters, less so their situation and what can be inferred from it. Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston tackle roles strikingly similar yet different, each with a relaxed honesty that intensifies their more dramatic scenes, of which there are many. Perry knows his characters well, possibly too well, as he can't quite reconcile his own awareness of their psyches with their personal comprehension thereof, as his somewhat overly-verbose dialogue sporadically reveals. And in that he knows them, another reveal: these are figures not unlike those from Listen Up Philip, only maybe even more insufferable, as their social and intellectual backgrounds taint our interpretation of their overall character.