Review: Queen of Hearts


Title: Queen of Hearts
MPAA Rating: NR
Directors: May el-Toukhy
Starring: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper
Runtime: 2 hr 7 mins

What It Is: Anne (Dyrholm) is an upper-class lawyer who works with young women and children in court. She has a husband and two young daughters. One day, her husband’s son, her step-son Gustav (Lindh) comes to their house after being kicked out of his home school in Sweden. At first, Anne deals with the awkward tension between her and Gustav but quickly finds herself falling into an unexpected relationship with him. She uses all her skill and knowledge into making sure their secret stays safe, with tremendous consequences.

What We Think: What an interesting package. To preface, I’ll state that I have a personal interest when it comes to statutory relationships in film and how they are represented. Lolita (1999) happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. In the case of this film, I thought it was an interesting subject to tackle. The first thing that comes to many a mind when led to the subject “step-mom-and-step-son-relationship” is the front page of any adult website. That is to say the topic hasn’t necessarily been covered in media in a more serious light, nor is it taken very serious in general, unfortunately. This is what I wholly appreciate from this film–it takes a melancholic, if not tragic look at an abusive and manipulative relationship between an older woman looking for some (sexual) satisfaction and the seventeen-year-old she finds it from. It’s a real slap in the face. I love that this is being tackled and how it was handled. We see who Anne is, her internal conflict versus her painful actions, and how she comes to her ridiculous conclusions against Gustav’s case of naivety and disadvantage.

It’s not an easy watch as quite a chunk of it is treated much like a romance in its blunt erotism. Effectively uncomfortable, though I’m not sure in the face of the message of the story itself does it really make sense to have these explicit love scenes. The presentation itself is quite well done–the acting is well-rounded; Trine Dyrholm glows, binding you to the screen as a powerful and complicated lead. The camera work is lovely; involving and creeping as it foreshadows throughout the picture. The tone and nature of the film are impressed heavily throughout.

Our Grade: C+, Putting the core of the subject matter aside, the story does feel a bit one-note. It is made well and performed nicely. The writing is fine. I can’t say it’s the most memorable film of its type. It might be the drama for you–observing the unraveling of a desperate hypocrite and taking in the meaningful sub-context was enriching, but the story itself, a somewhat predictable turn of events, leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, I look forward to the director’s next picture in hopes it will offer just as much if not improve upon this film.

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