Queen of Earth
Sometimes friends seem to be friends for no other reason than because they are. In Alex Ross Perry’s latest offering, which premiered this week at the Berlin Film Festival, presents this very confounding nuance of long-term friendship. A privileged city girl, played by Elisabeth Moss, looks to reconcile her grief at the lake-side cabin of an old pal after losing both her father and her relationship.
Though in the past Perry has drawn on literary inspiration for his work (Phillip Roth for Listen Up Phillip and Thomas Pynchon for Impolex), there is a more obvious nod to his cinematic influences this time round. Roman Polanksi’s Knife in the Water seems a fittingly claustrophobic comparison.
As the film progresses, we move through the themes of grief and friendship and into the realms of privacy. Patrck Fugit enters the fray as the interfering friend-cum-lover of Catherine’s host; Fugit, who seems made to play the obnoxious and passively confrontational Rich, acts as the source of disruption in Catherine’s attempts to grieve.
The small cast and one-location set offers an excellent showcase for the talents of Moss, who convincingly brings her character from the unhappy to the unhinged, through a series of increasingly bewildering events, as she plays off the collected Katherine Waterston opposite her. With time soon to be called on Mad Men, the show that launched her to fame, it would seem that Moss may find greater professional satisfaction in smaller projects that offer her a certain freedom for artistic development.
There is a lot to suggest that Perry has the potential to graduate to a more recognised and accomplished director, though perhaps in this instance he has convinced himself to put too much into his dialogue-driven script. A film that steadily builds a sense of dread as it intertwines the central issues of grief and entitlement, Queen of Earth comes together to create another interesting work to add to his catalogue.
Queen of Earth does not yet have a UK release date.