Queen of Earth06 Sep 2015
Queen of Earth features great cinematography, which creates an atmospheric feel, especially during the few night scenes which let in very little light. The use of 16-mm cameras, a small location and few characters situates this film among many like it in the 70s and 80s. The best scene in the film features slow camera work, capturing dialog, and superb performances from both Moss and Waterston telling break up stories. I wished for more of this type of dialog but Alex Ross Perry seems more interested in asking questions, creating mysteries than answering anything or creating comfort.
Elizabeth Moss can do anything. Between movies like this, The One I love, and shows like Mad Men and Top of the Lake, she has earned her place among actors who can count on me as an audience member for pretty much anything they want to put on screen. All the close ups could be described as claustrophobic, but I felt they could more aptly be considered overwhelming. The same way in which the emotions in this film seem to overwhelm its main characters. Moss rises to the challenge and uses these close ups to display her command of her face, body, and thoughts as an actor.
One drawback, however, is the consideration that this film and a lot of films it’s paying homage to (Bergman, Polanski, Allen, to name a few) is about crazy women as created by men watching from a distance. That doesn’t in and of itself have to be problematic but when it happens so many times over so many decades it should make us question - what is it about men telling the story of crazy women we find so enthralling. And should we be participating in this practice? I suppose it helps that Alex Ross Perry is aware of this and dealt with it in some way in Listen Up Phillip, but I don’t know if it’s enough to get a get-out-of-jail free card.