Queen of Earth (2015)

Director & Writer: Alex Ross Perry
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Patrick Fugit, Katherine Waterston.

I am not really sure how to describe or categorize this film. I guess it’s a cross between the Mumblecore movement and Rosemary’s Baby era Roman Polanski. It’s a psychological thriller, but so much more than that. It’s been a while since I’ve seen what truly would be defined as arthouse cinema, and this was exactly the kind of movie I was looking for. The mood is bizarre and always tethered to the bizarre if not insane, yet grounded by so many moments of quiet and stillness. The music was eerie, disquieting, at times almost ridiculously and overwhelmingly melodramatic, and without this specific score the film would not have been successful – so much of it hinges on the music and the feelings it creates and evokes.

The plot is equally hard to describe. It’s a story about friendship, about growing apart, about loss, about depression, about a descent into madness, and perhaps (depending on one’s reading of the film) about hope. The focus is primarily on Catherine, a woman who has recently lost her father as well as been abandoned by her partner. She seeks refuge at the home on the lake of her best friend Ginny. Disrupting her desire for absolute peace and tranquility is Ginny’s friend and paramour Rich, who rubs her the wrong way. Everyone mistreats each other, puts each other down constantly, and is unable or unwilling to connect. Misplaced anger and resentments over privilege and wealth divide these three characters, who basically make up the entire cast of the film. It is the wealthy caucasian trope of ennui taken to the most extreme of circumstances.

Elisabeth Moss plays Catherine, and believably switches from nearly broken down and psychologically fractures to nearly naive and childlike with mastery and finesse. Lately Moss has been able to stretch herself as an actress and has been delivering interesting performances in unlikely projects, and this is no different. Playing Ginny is Katherine Waterston, whom I had never heard of nor seen before. She does a good job in the film, although it’s hard to tell, really. The moodiness and feel of the film are so detached from normalcy that it’s hard to know what her directions were and how she executed them. The end result, though, isn’t bad. Lastly, playing Rich is Patrick Fugit who does a good job at being creepy. Since Almost Famous he definitely has found his niche in small indies and arthouse flicks. The cast is strongest when together, and as a group they deliver performances that really highlight the bizarre nature of such an interesting and ultimately engaging weird little movie.

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