Queen of Earth

Queen of Earth ★★

I was hooked into Queen of Earth not only by Alex Ross Perry's talent but also by the suspenseful throwback trailer. The end credits are great too, each name appearing in rococo script, then surrounded by rows of themselves. That repeating recalls the depression of the protagonist: something so specific that it's exquisite, until it overwhelms you and you get lost.

I'm writing about cosmetic elements of the film because there isn't much at its core. It retains the misanthropy and acid-steeped dialogue of Perry's earlier efforts, but it doesn't really amount to much of anything other than a workout of influences (Persona and Rosemary's Baby most obviously). I'm a bit worried by Joe Swanberg's producer credit here since I hope his low stakes don't rub off on Perry. The intimacy afforded by the 16 mm and the extreme close-ups is meant to throw the viewer off-balance, but it makes the terror of the film seem small as well. At times--especially the impotent first half--it seems as if Perry thought he could rub atonal music over his normal style and instantly generate a thriller. If this is what he has to make to grow as a filmmaker, then fine I guess.

The person who gets it here is Elisabeth Moss, one of the finest actresses in the world trapped in a bland film. There's a moment when she's mouthing "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry," and the regret appears to literally daze her. She seems out of sync with her own body. She was just as good in Listen Up Philip*, and I hope Perry's next script is more worthy of her talents.

*- The Waterston character is reading an Ike Zimmerman book at one point, which is a clever way of showing that Queen of Earth takes place in the same caustic universe as Listen Up Philip. But if Elisabeth Moss is playing different characters in each film, which she is, then what does that mean?

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