Alex Ross Perry’s latest film, “Queen of Earth,” recalls the work of filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman and John Cassavettes in its visual style. Yet in its dialogue and story, the film feels a bit like Chekov’s stab at a psychological thriller.
In fact, I got a bit of déjà vu to Woody Allen’s “September,” a chamber drama set in a rustic retreat. The setting is similar in “Queen of Earth” – a lake house, populated by a smug set of unabashedly spoiled thirty-somethings. The majority of the film’s ninety minutes are devoted to the verbal shanking that occurs between two frenemies, Katherine Waterston’s Virginia and Elisabeth Moss’ Catherine. The latter of the two takes it a little rougher and begins to suffer a bit of a crack up.
Thankfully, Moss and Waterston are talented enough thespians to make these fights interesting. Perry, who penned indelible one-liners for his previous features “The Color Wheel” and “Listen Up Philip,” paints in almost humorously broad strokes here. His general, vague dialogue makes their conflict feel rather lacking in depth. Furthermore, it feels at odds with his aesthetic tools of choice, which heavily rely on close-ups of their faces to carry the drama.
While this might be a step forward for Perry as an artist, it seems to have come at the cost of his memorable, believable characters. Hopefully he can find a way to better marry the two sensibilities moving forward. B- /