Two women go away together. One meets a man that distracts her from being there for her friend. The betrayed friend says, "One day you will need me, and then I won't be there for you." When they next go away together the roles are reversed, the threat becomes reality. But the two situations are not exactly the same - the man in the first scenario was benign, the man in the second scenario is toxic. That and other differences displace the parallel between the two events. Written by
Throughout the film Virginia (Katherine Waterston) is seen reading books by Ike Zimmerman. This is the fictional author played by Jonathan Pryce in director/writer Alex Ross Perry's previous film Listen Up Philip. See more »
You fucking animal. You unrepentant piece of shit. You click your tongue and you revel in the affairs of others. You are worthless. You don't know anything about me. You show up to fuck my best friend, and you pry into the lives of others to conceal how worthless and boring your own life is. I don't deserve this. I just want to be left alone. I want to be left alone with the few people who are left in this world who are decent.
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So, I really wasn't a fan of Alex Ross Perry's last film Listen Up Philip. That's all I have to base him on. I felt there were a few redeeming aspects going for it, but generally it was an unpleasant experience. It's biggest redeeming aspect? Easily Elisabeth Moss. She played Philip's recovering ex-girlfriend with such tender vulnerability that Perry's ineptitude as a writer and director couldn't get in her way. She makes the film worthwhile when the film could have easily chopped off her subplot and remained the same. Though to clarify, her performance is good, her story is a drag. In theory, Queen of Earth was the perfect next move. A focused movie letting Moss let loose with the unhinged side of her character from Listen Up. And yet, it went so wrong. Someone must have hurt Alex Ross Perry bad. The only thing he has to thoughtlessly spray about people are mean-spirited bites with absolutely no finesse. I don't mind cynical films or characters, but not when they bring absolutely nothing insightful to the table. It's an ugly spite that dives into the unpleasant side of unpleasant people without essential epiphanies.
Instead, Perry has his 'queen of earth' blame everyone else for her problem sans any hint of irony. It's far too self-serious and unsatisfying. It's lazy writing when the backstory is much more interesting than what they're showing on screen, especially when its many flashbacks refuse to divulge into it. It's not necessarily a clumsy film, but it's a very pretentious in its composition and rhythm as if it's the next Persona or 3 Women. How many minuscule scenes do we need of the two leading women walking by each other tensely in a room? I'd like to say Katherine Waterston saves it in a co-leading opportunity, but in Perry's hands she's worse than Moss. I forgive both actresses and Patrick Fugit, but the material they had to work with is so petty and flat, never probing into deeper human needs, only superficial selfish desires that have no third dimension. I could kind of get into it at first, the opening prologue shot for example is very compelling, but it just never finds its way from there. At least its photography isn't quite as incompetent, though Perry is trapping me in his closeups again. It makes Listen Up Philip look well developed in comparison.
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