Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Conor Horgan has chosen his battle wisely. A fascinating figure, an earnest point of view - the very things that documentary filmmaking is built upon. The Queen of Ireland is no radical reinvention, no formal game-changer nor political eye-opener. It's a fun and flattering portrait of Panti Bliss, Ireland's #1 drag queen, in a most conventional manner. That its subject is so fascinating, and indeed so winning, is what makes this film equally so. To the uninitiated, the fascination increases proportionately depending on the level of familiarity with the drag lifestyle - the debauchery, the flippancy, the plain old difficulty that comes with establishing some form of stability. The Queen of Ireland couldn't have been a weaker film had it dwelt more upon these topics, though it presents its own, more modern conflict as the necessary sociopolitical thematic meat. Panti is embroiled in a row between the progressive left and the religious right, in their own very Irish incarnations, though despite (or is it due to?) the extreme defiance of her stance, even her actual identity, comes to represent the heart of the matter at hand, and the heart of the people. The row spills over into the equal marriage referendum, and you know the result already; it'll never not warm my own heart to witness love once forbidden and derided, love that I know so well myself, not only being embraced but also learning to allow itself to be embraced. From this point of view, Conor Horgan's battle has been chosen particularly wisely. He wins me over, and so does Panti Bliss.