The Queen of Fear (La Reina del Miedo)
10th October 2018 8.45pm at ICA Cinema
11th October 2018 3.45pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
Anxiety can be a cruel beast, crippling one’s confidence with an inhibition that, in the worst case scenario, can lead to a devastatingly reclusive existence and eventual breakdown. The Queen of Fear asks what life would be like should an actor feel this way. Someone who has dedicated their life and career to an industry that involves presenting yourself in front of a thousand eyes and making the auditorium your own, suddenly finding themselves cautious and intimidated by all around them. Fear can unknowingly drive you away from your dreams and for Valeria Bertuccelli’s Robertina, it is this sense of dread that haunts her every movement.
Darkness follows the end of a production as the lights dim for the final time, but for high-profile Argentinian actress Robertina, it lingers long after the curtain has fallen. Busy preparing for the approaching one-woman show that she is writing, directing and starring in (or so she tells her agent), the protagonist struggles with the reality and pains of living a non-stop, stress-riddled life – including a divorce. Slowly but surely it is beginning to overwhelm her and the character’s growing apprehensions are topped off with the heart-breaking news that her long-time friend Lisandro (Diego Valazquez) is suffering from cancer once again.
Although living in Denmark, Robertina halts all of her work to fly from Buenos Aires with the hope of not only looking after her close companion, but also in search of some mental relief and stability for herself. With the curtain rising in only a matter of days and the theatre crawling down her throat for direction, the actress finds her life being pulled in multiple directions as she endeavours to overcome her fears and establish her true self.
Through a naturalistic lens, the performer’s fear of the dark is accentuated by her living in a house that is totally white, both inside and out. This being a colour symbolic of purity, goodness and protection, the protagonist keeps evil and darkness away by embracing the light – since her wealth alone does not give her peace of mind. Clearly, Robertina is a talented woman in her field, yet the role runs far deeper than that, exploring themes of mental health, independent stability and contemporary womanhood, all powerfully performed, written and directed by the consummate Bertuccelli who is not only utterly convincing in her portrayal of the taxed actress, but who demonstrates her own astonishing acting ability in a show-stopping finale. There can be no doubt that as the writer, co-director and lead performer in The Queen of Fear, Bertuccelli is a triple threat and a force to be reckoned with.
Praise must also be given to the grounded and reserved performance of Valazquez as Robertina’s cancer-stricken friend, which adds further dimensions to the film by portraying a character of subtlety, yet one that remains a stronger soul in the face of adversity and the inevitable end that comes with his illness. The conclusion arrives with a profoundly loud message, but is it truly satisfying? That is left up to the audience.
The Queen of Fear (La Reina del Miedo) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Queen of Fear (La Reina del Miedo) here: