Queen of Earth

Queen of Earth ★★★★★

With Queen of Earth, caustic auteur Alex Ross Perry stakes his claim as the most essential voice in the American independent scene at the moment. He is the king of narcissism and disenchantment, fearlessly exposing the neuroses of the privileged to make them a tangible and empathetic presence. Human nature knows no boundaries, it doesn't prejudice against anyone. The claustrophobic and depressive state of this specific motion picture is ingeniously realized by isolating the characters to a place cut off from outside influence, a place of tranquility. At least on the surface it seem that way, but can you really escape your problems? Sure, you can escape from the physical presence of them, yet they linger in the imagination, a place where you can't escape from: yourself. Words are an important element in all of Perry's work too. They cut deep, a way of getting off your chest that which burdens you and to connect and know someone. They can also breed love and hate, not to mention resentment. Can you ever truly know someone though? You are not them, and they are not you. We can understand through experience, but can we ever REALLY know? We can just believe what we are told. Another specific element explored here is identity. What makes us who we are? Do we need others to know oneself? And what about companionship? We feel codependent on others and at times we want nothing to do with them. It's a vicious cycle that keeps repeating. I haven't even mentioned the performances yet. Elisabeth Moss delivers a powerhouse one. A genuine all-timer of sophisticated facial twitches, vocal modulations, and vulnerability. She is aided immensely by Sean Price Williams' cinematography that consists of unflattering close-ups, which are uncomfortable, probing, and inexorable. The mental deterioration of her character is hard to watch at times, emotionally volatile and distressing. She is almost evenly matched by the exquisite Katherine Waterston. Both deserve utmost respect. The off-kilter editing rhythms, and the horror infused score here only compound the disturbing, darkly comic tone. I'm sure there is much more here that I haven't even gotten to. Queen of Earth is simply a confounding achievement that eviscerated me on multiple levels. The unbearable tension inherent to it broke me down, and made me grip my armrests the entire runtime. Psychological unease has rarely been this debilitating. An intense masterpiece of form and content.

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