“Queen of Earth” began its theatrical run in Houston at Sundance Cinemas yesterday and is being distributed by IFC Films.
Catherine (Elizabeth Moss) was already feeling vulnerable after the sudden passing of her artistic and inspiring father, but soon after her boyfriend James (Kentucker Audley) reveals that he’s been cheating on her which results in a nasty break-up and has Catherine sinking into a crippling state of depression and anxiety.
As James moves out, Catherine decides to retreat to a lake house with her best friend Virginia (Katherine Waterston). She hopes she’ll be able to relax and spend a week with someone she cares about, but she soon realizes that two women who were once childhood friends are now extremely distant from one another. Virginia’s obnoxious and overbearing boyfriend Rich (Patrick Fugit) doesn’t seem to help matters.
“Queen of Earth” shifts between what is occurring at the lake house in the present day and what transpired there a year prior. The previous year, Catherine was in an overwhelmingly co-dependent relationship with James and Virginia was the one with the chip on her shoulder. Now Catherine is the one being childish and Virginia is left trying to pick up the pieces.
The truth is that both women are unbearable. They each treat their best friend like garbage and you’re left to endure it for 90 minutes. To be fair each woman thought they’d be spending a week alone with each other and no one else. The first year Catherine brought James along unannounced and the current year Rich won’t leave even though Catherine doesn’t want him there. While the two characters get an idea of what it’s like to walk in the other’s shoes, “Queen of Earth” fails to give the concept a strong enough foundation to actually be entertaining, intriguing, or worthwhile in the slightest.
Labeled as a psychological thriller, “Queen of Earth” is neither psychological nor thrilling. It presents itself as more of a drama that is never able to find its footing. Written and directed by Alex Ross Perry (“Listen Up Philip”), “Queen of Earth” seems to be attempting to make a statement about depression. Catherine is shown not sleeping and throwing tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. She lies completely motionless in her bed without actually resting. But its venomous dialogue is acidic in nature since the film seems to be suffering from this poison that deliberately makes it tedious.
“Queen of Earth” feels like it’s trying to fit in the same mold as films such as “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” “The Beaver,” or “Melancholia,” but it is a film that is stripped entirely of enjoyment. The performances are reprehensible, the camera work is sloppy, and the film is written as if Alex Ross Perry hates every person on the planet. “Queen of Earth” is one of the least recommendable films of the year. This is a film that chooses to ride a tidal wave of agitation and bitterness instead of portraying any sort of amusing or enticing qualities.