Queen of Earth

Screening on Film
Directed by Alex Ross Perry.
With Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston, Patrick Fugit.
US, 2015, 35mm, color, 90 min.
Print source: Cinema Conservancy

Summoning psychological horror films like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and Robert Altman’s Images, Perry withholds all life-preservers in his acidic portrayal of a woman coming apart. Elisabeth Moss fearlessly explores the edges of sanity as Catherine who has retreated to her friend Virginia’s lakeside cabin after the death of her famous and beloved father followed by a break-up with a longtime lover. The depth of the friends’ densely knotted—and at times painfully antagonistic—relationship often reveals itself in abrupt flashbacks to the previous summer at the same place, allowing for a jarringly slippery perspective on how both women have changed while elucidating Catherine’s tenuous hold on present reality, which even the audience begins to question. Exacerbated by the unsettling presence of a persistent interlocutor, Catherine’s breakdown and Virginia’s entanglement in it contains nothing solid or comforting for either the characters or the audience, only distorted reflections bouncing between the characters and out into the theater beyond its unearthly, eerie ending.

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